The discussion of what is happening at this point in time regarding the development of Mattapoisett’s new Master Plan sounded, at times, like the famous Abbott and Costello routine, “Who’s on first… what’s on second…” during the September 21 meeting of the town’s Planning Board. But there were also expressions of concern that the creation of a town-wide committee charged with developing a strategy for the Master Plan was being taken over by the Town Administrator Mike Lorenco.
Chairman Tom Tucker asked board members Janice Robbins and Nathan Ketchel and board administrator Mary Crain how the Master Plan workshops hosted by the Southeastern Regional Planning and Economic Development District (SRPEDD) several weeks ago had gone. While the trio said the workshops were helpful and produced some suggestions and ideas, there seemed to be a desire to keep things unchanged in Mattapoisett.
But when the board got around to discussion of a committee to continue the development work, some board members questioned the involvement of the town administrator.
Robbins pressed Crain on the list of people who had previously expressed interest in participating in the process, a list that Crain gathered at the beginning of the year. Robbins asked several times what became of those interested parties and who, in fact, is selecting committee members.
“I’m having an issue on the way this committee is being put together,” Robbins stated. “The Planning Board should put the committee together by state statute… we’ve got to get this thing going.”
Crain confirmed that delays in pulling a Master Plan committee together had slowed the process down, not the least of which was the emergence of COVID-19. She said that Lorenco had wanted to add a couple of names to the list, but to date she had not heard anything more from him.
Tucker asked, “Were those people kicked to the curb?… How come we aren’t having more input on the committee members?” he wondered aloud.
Robbins said again, “I’m having an issue… sounds like he (Lorenco) is taking it over.”
“Thank you, Janice, my thoughts exactly,” responded Tucker.
Tucker offered the idea of having subcommittees within this yet-to-be-created Master Plan committee, with chairmen on each. The subcommittee chairmen would then come together to share the work of each group. Tucker said this type of committee work had been successful at his place of employment. Master Plan subgroups would consider such matters as affordable housing, infrastructure, cultural assets, and economic development.
Crain was asked to share the list of interested residents with the board members for their review and to follow-up with Lorenco to ascertain the status of his suggestions.
During the workshops hosted by SRPEDD, coordinator Grant King had indicated that a Master Plan takes as long as two years to complete and he anticipated that to be the case for Mattapoisett. Crain was asked to also follow-up with King for next-step guidance.
In a follow-up with Lorenco, the town administrator said that he was simply, “offering my assistance, nothing more.” He said, regarding the appointment of committee members, that recommendations would come from the Planning Board and that the Board of Selectmen would appointment the final candidates. Lorenco did say that he suggested no more than two Planning Board members be on the Master Plan Committee.
Other matters handled by the Planning Board included a Form B Preliminary Subdivision Plan filed by Stephen Randon for property located off Route 6 near Randall Road. Representing the applicant was Bill Madden of G.A.F. Engineers, who outlined the one-lot subdivision being proposed.
Madden said the lot in question would require waivers, nearly all that could be sought in order to access the three-acre, buildable parcel situated in and around a working cranberry bog. Madden said of the roadway rule he would be seeking a waiver from the 50-foot width requirement of pervious materials to a 40-foot entrance of crushed stone.
Madden asked if the Planning Board would grant a site-plan review, which would avert the need to seek a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals. The request was granted. Madden will return for plan review in approximately a month.
Also reviewed for a second time was the continuation of an informal discussion regarding driveway access off Long Plain Road to a solar-array site located in Acushnet. Representing the owners was Rick Ricco of Field Engineering, who said he had spoken with the fire departments in Acushnet and in Mattapoisett to assure access meets with both towns’ emergency requirements.
Crain reported that Jonathan Silverstein of KP Law, the town’s counselor, noted that the Planning Board has no jurisdictional oversight in this matter.
The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Planning Board is scheduled for Monday, October 5, at 7:00 pm via remote access.
Mattapoisett Planning Board
By Marilou Newell