Town Counsel to Defend 25% Fence

            Rochester’s Select Board Monday granted the town’s Historic District Commission permission to use Town Counsel in the court appeal that is being filed against the commission’s Briggs Hobby Barn permit decision.

            The board swiftly and unanimously approved the request to help the commission defend itself in court after Select Board Chairman Brad Morse explained simply, “They are asking our attorney to represent them. I agree with that.”

            Briggs Hobby Barn is a plan to construct two buildings to store and repair collectible automobiles, trucks and other motor vehicles on New Bedford Road. It received a Special Permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals on May 23 and a site-plan-review permit from the Planning Board on June 11.

            The Historic District Commission’s Certificate of Appropriateness that the Briggs project received on June 5 included a condition mandating the erection of a “25-percent-visibility” fence for the Briggs Hobby Barn property on New Bedford Road.

            Quickly thereafter, Briggs attorney Karla Chaffee complained to the Planning Board that a solid stockade fence had been her client’s proposal for the cemetery border to the property since the project was first designed. She said she will take court action against that condition, as it will change the design plan and might reignite the entire permitting process.

            In other action, the Select Board learned that $467,543 remains in the town’s Capital Planning account for spending in the new fiscal year (FY25) that began on July 1. Capital Planning Committee Chairman David Arancio asked the board for direction in how that money should be spent.

            Arancio noted happily that $1,167,230 has already been spent by the town on capital items in the past years, but he cautioned the board to not spend over-confidently. “The caveat here is we need to be conservative here,” he said. “This may not be what our budgets look like in future years.”

            Select Board member Adam Murphy noted the Capital Planning Committee’s current priorities include Highway Department equipment and a police chief’s vehicle. Arancio said that request has been withdrawn for now as budgets are in a transitional period. The town currently has an interim police chief and an interim town administrator. Their full-time replacements may have other plans for their budgets, Arancio said. Morse moved to take the current Capital Planning recommendations under advisement.

            The board awarded a Citation of Appreciation to retiring Finance Committee Chairman Kris Stoltenberg for 39 years of service to the town.

            The board approved Dennis P. McCarthy as a new associate member of the Zoning Board of Appeals and reappointed Justin Bouley and James Austin to the Finance Committee. The board accepted the resignation letter of Historic District Commission member Susan Fleming.

            Interim Town Administrator Suzanne Szyndlar reported the town’s oldest citizen is Maureen Riley, age 102. She will be presented with the town’s Boston Post Cane in a ceremony on July 12.

            Szyndlar reported the town administrator search committee will start interviewing 10 applicants it has heard from so far for the job on July 9. She said the committee will remain open to receiving more applications until the position is filled.

            The board approved Eversource’s request to continue its public hearings into permitting a new utility pole and manhole for the Rounseville Road project until August 5.

            The next meeting of the Rochester Select Board will be held on Monday, July 15, at 6:00 pm at the Rochester Council on Aging, 67 Dexter Lane.

Rochester Select Board

By Michael J. DeCicco

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