If Thursday’s finance committee meeting was any indicator of the debate that will accompany two proposed Annual Town Meeting articles governing piers, citizens should prepare for a long day.
At the meeting, members of the Pier, Access and Shoreline Study (PASS) committee were set to make a presentation on the articles, but what ensued was more of a debate between members with the finance committee often trying to just grasp the concept of the two articles.
Article 16 seeks to create a Waterfront Scenic Area (WSA) district of six areas with views of the town’s waterways while Article 17 creates a new section of the zoning bylaws to govern piers, including those in the new district.
After giving a brief history of the charge of the committee, Chairman Bill TenHoor reminded finance committee members that his group had voted to indefinitely postpone the articles at their meeting on February 26 by a vote of four yeas and one abstention. At their March 1 meetings however, both the planning board and board of selectmen voted to support the measures, encouraging the group to go forward.
TenHoor chalked up the decision to indefinitely postpone the articles to "cold feet," adding that there were still some areas of discontent among members, including buffer zones. Shawn Dahlen, the lone abstention in the vote to indefinitely postpone, said he feels that town voters should hear the bylaws and get a grasp for what it does and welcomes any amendments. Committee member Paul Brogna then informed the board that the vote to indefinitely postpone was done with only five members, himself excluded, and that he was surprised by the move.
"What you have before you is not perfect but will never be perfect," said Brogna.
Discussion then turned to the divide among the group regarding proposed buffer zones at town landings and ways to the water, where a majority of the committee wants 150 feet and the minority wants 75 feet. At 150 feet, 16 residents would be prohibited from building piers while 75 feet would only affect one or two residents. The committee’s report cites the negative effect piers have on town landings by reducing the access landings were intended to create, diminishing the scenic views in the area among other reasons.
Josselyn Ave. resident John Wisbach then expressed his displeasure with the articles, saying that he "did not want the town taking 150 feet of rights" away from him and tell him he cannot build a pier.
Debate continued over the buffer zone issue for about 30 minutes before committee chairman Frank Mangione asked that the presentation move along.
After more questions on pier building regulations and more debate among PASS members, TenHoor reasserted that it was the committee’s wish to indefinitely postpone the articles and rather than their first thought of passing the work along to the Bay Management Study Committee, PASS members would keep working to perhaps present their work at a Special Town Meeting.
TenHoor indicated that his group had one more meeting Monday night to reconsider the decision to indefinitely postpone. With this in mind, finance committee members postponed their own vote whether or not to support the articles.