It was the most difficult letter he has ever had to read, Rochester Police Chief Paul Magee told the Rochester Board of Selectmen on September 18, just before he formally announced his intent to retire from the department effective September 14, 2018 – a date Magee said he had decided on years ago.
Magee has served as a police officer for 30 years in several area towns, and 14 as Rochester’s chief.
“It has been a tremendous honor and the highlight of my career to serve in this capacity,” said Magee, who stated he wanted to give the Town ample time to find a replacement. “I know the final year will go by quickly, and I look forward to assisting with the selection process in any way that I can.
“Again, it has been an honor to serve you, this Town, and its residents,” said Magee. “I truly thank those who had faith in me back in 2003 when I was selected for this position.”
Magee shook hands with two selectmen and then approached Selectman Naida Parker who insisted on a hug. “You are one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life,” she told him.
Later, the selectmen met with the Rochester Finance Committee to vote on their recommendations of the articles featured on the 2017 Fall Special Town Meeting scheduled for October 23 at 7:00 pm at RMS.
Included was Article 6, the citizens’ petition to amend the solar bylaw to prohibit the installation of solar photovoltaic ground-mounted panels “within 1,000 feet of any commonwealth- or town-designated scenic road unless existing topographic features of the landscape preclude observation of the solar arrays from the scenic road,” as the article reads.
Over 100 residents’ signatures were collected in order to bring the article forward, which the Town is obligated to add to the warrant.
The Board of Selectmen voted to send the proposed bylaw amendment back to the Planning Board to hold the public hearing on the proposed bylaw change, as per Massachusetts General Law.
Planning Board Chairman Arnold Johnson, present for the meeting, said any changes after that public hearing would have to be made on Town Meeting floor. Johnson said that public hearing should be held on October 10 if all paperwork for the article is submitted in time to allow for a two-week public notice in the newspaper.
In other business, the board appointed Police Chief Magee’s recommended candidate for reserve officer, Leonard Mota. With a dwindling reserve, Magee said the extra help was needed. Mota served in the U.S. Marine Corps for six years and retired from the New Bedford Police Department earlier this year after 30 years on the force.
The board approved a fundraiser event for the Rochester Country Fair Committee to be held at the Pine Street fairgrounds. Benefitting the RCF, the event will feature a tractor show, tractor pull, and truck show. Which weekend in October has yet to be decided.
The board accepted the $35,000 Buzzards Bay Municipal Mini-Grant as recommended by Conservation Agent Laurell Farinon and the Rochester Conservation Commission. The funds will be used toward the Rochester Land Trust’s acquisition of the “Estabrook Property” off Walnut Plain Road. The over 70 acres of land that fall within a recognized Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program zone will be preserved from development in perpetuity.
Under selectmen’s signature, the board received four letters of interest from residents willing to serve on the newest committee to be formed in town: the Pine Street Property Usage Committee.
“I’m thrilled we got four people who want to do it,” said Selectman Greenwood Hartley, who later stated what he prefers the committee tackle: (1) a set of rules that specify that the Country Fair uses the property for its three-day event in August, in addition to two other one-day events during the year; and (2) which, when, and how other Town entities can utilize the grounds for fundraising efforts that benefit the town.
Ultimately, the board approved Kelly Morgado as the representative from the Rochester Country Fair Committee, Jeremy Peck for resident (non-RCFC), Selectman Morse, and Suzanne Szyndlar, town administrator.
The next meeting of the Rochester Board of Selectmen will be on October 2 at 6:30 pm at the Rochester Town Hall. The selectmen will sign the warrant for the special town meeting at that time.
By Jean Perry