Differing Opinions on Citizen’s Petition

The May 6 meeting of the Mattapoisett Planning Board found two members speaking candidly about Article 23 of the Annual Town Meeting warrant – creation of a committee brought via a citizen’s petition, inspired by the Tree Committee’s desire for influence on the project design.

            The village streets reconstruction project was slated to be funded by the TIP program established by the Department of Transportation, the same agency that funded the boardwalk bike path known as Phase 1b.

            Representing the Friends of Mattapoisett Village Roads was Bonne DeSousa. She said she wanted to share why the petition was being brought before Town Meeting and to how the Planning Board and other boards and committees will be asked to take a seat if the article passes Town Meeting muster.

            DeSousa explained that about six people with a like mind to gain full participation on plans to reconstruct the village roads wrote the petition after receiving sufficient signatures verified by the town clerk’s office. She said the petition, if passed, would allow for the creation of a new committee comprised of one member each from the Planning Board, Select Board, Community Preservation Committee and the Tree Committee. There would also be three at-large members, two with unspecified construction backgrounds. The committee would be fully engaged in all aspects of the project, including keeping taxpayers fully informed.

            DeSousa emphasized that the petition and committee is not solely for further study of the number of trees that would require removal but also the complete design, including the need for ADA-compliant sidewalks.

            After DeSousa asked if the board members had any questions, a member of the public asked for the opportunity to speak. Deborah Abelha, 6 Stoney Hill Road, said that the Tree Committee, with which she had dealt regarding trees on her own property, is “an advisory committee” and, as such, has in her opinion overstepped its bounds.

            Regarding the village roads project, Abelha held that there is a number of projects facing the town and that another committee would only add another layer. She questioned why the petition was being brought before the Planning Board. Board member William Wennerberg explained it was for information only.

            DeSousa said it won’t be a building committee, it will provide a platform for public engagement and that the Select Board would hold executive power. “This is a citizen petition not coming from the Tree Committee,” DeSousa said.

            Wennerberg said many town agencies are already involved. He went on to say he was 100% opposed to establishing another committee, calling it “redundant.” He said the Select Board has held loads of meetings.

            Planning Board member John Mathieu said he agreed with Wennerberg, stating that Select Board members are elected to conduct the business of the people. “We are already five years into this project,” he said.

            Earlier in the evening, the Planning Board approved a Definitive Subdivision Plan for 112 Mattapoisett Neck Road, represented by Andy Stackpole of Field Engineering. The plan calls for two new lots with one remaining unbuildable and another already developed.

            Two Form A applications submitted were approved for Colin Labrie, 7 Hollywoods Road, for the subdivision of three parcels.

            Lastly, a Form C application submitted by David Duchaine for property located off Ocean Drive was approved.

            The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Planning Board is scheduled for Monday, May 20, at 7:00 pm.

Mattapoisett Planning Board

By Marilou Newell

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