The Planning Board unanimously approved a pair of articles they are sponsoring at this year’s Annual Town Meeting, including one to increase their membership. The Planning Board unanimously approved a pair of articles they are sponsoring at this year’s Annual Town Meeting, including one to increase their membership.

Under Article 25, the board is seeking town approval to adopt a provision under Massachusetts General Laws to allow them to appoint two associate members specifically to assist in site plan reviews.  This would help ensure that there would be a quorum of members for all reviews and help avoid delays because of absences or scheduling conflicts with elected members.

At the board’s February 2 meeting, former selectman Ruth Rowley inquired why they were going to town voters for approval and not instead suggesting an amendment to the town’s bylaws to make the change.

The board felt because the move was already allowed by state law, it simply needed a vote at Town Meeting and no amendment to the bylaws, but said they would check with Town Counsel Robert Troy.

In a memo dated February 9 to Town Manager Rocco Longo, Troy indicated that since there were no provisions in the bylaw detailing the number of members on the planning board, he saw no provision that required an amendment.  The next day, however, he sent a memo to Planning Director Christine Stickney that provided language for how the board could amend their article to include changing the protective bylaws.

Stickney said she was curious about the memo, but did not get a chance to confer with Troy before Monday night’s meeting.  Her feeling was that Troy felt an amendment to town bylaws was not needed, but he would present two options and let the planning board decide their next move.

Board members unanimously approved recommending the article to appoint two associate members to their ranks, with Stickney consulting Troy on which avenue he felt the board should explore: a Town Meeting vote to okay the move or an amendment to town bylaws.

Stickney said she would report on Troy’s recommendation at the board’s next meeting on March 1.

Also at Monday’s meeting, Stickney presented the board with a final version of a new zoning map the group wants town voters to adopt. 

At last year’s Annual Town Meeting, $10,000 was appropriated to revise the zoning map and make it a more “user friendly” tool to work with, said Stickney.  The planning office worked with the firm Great Wall GIS to create a six-page map that represents different zoning overlays such as aquifier protection districts, flood hazard areas, publicly-owned land and other information.

Stickney indicated that the last time the town adopted a zoning map was 1982 and her office had incorporated all changes since.  They have even reviewed every Duxbury annual report since 1926 to ensure all the information is aligned, she said.

In addition to completing the project under budget, Stickney said that if approved by town voters, the map will be instantly ready to be accessed on the Internet in addition to having hard copies on sale at the planning office.

Planning board members unanimously approved recommending adoption of the new map, recognizing Stickney and her staff for their hard work on the project.

In other business at Monday’s meeting, the Planning Board:

*Unanimously accepted an Approval Not Required (ANR) plan to divide a 10-foot piece of land between two existing lots on Gurnet Road.  Originally discussed at their February 2 meeting, board members relied on a memo from Troy recommending they accept the ANR because the move did not create or divide land, but instead show a lot line that should have been indicated all along.

*Forwarded a memo from Stickney to the Zoning Board of Appeals regarding concerns with the Brewster Commons 40B proposal currently before the town.  In her memo, Stickney made inquiries regarding the site plan itself, access and utility issues and architectural renderings.   Chairman Peter Donahue represented the feeling of several board members who felt that while the binder of information from the applicant was filled with paperwork, there was “nothing inside in terms of what works and what doesn’t” with the project.  The board agreed to wait on issuing a technical review of the proposal until more information was received.