Owners of an Elm Street property have retained town approvals granted five years ago to construct a cell tower on their land. The Duxbury Planning Board voted last month to approve changes to a 2011 site plan for a T-Mobile monopole cell tower at 421 Elm Street.
The property, which is now owned by Stuart and Leslie Lee, had gained previous approval from the town for a special permit for the cell tower but it was never built.
According to minutes from the Planning Board’s March 9 meeting, Native American artifacts had been discovered in the area originally proposed for a roadway leading up to the cell tower.
The new site plan shows a different position for the tower access road and also requires less tree cutting in the area. No changes to the home’s street entrance or the monopole were proposed.
Duxbury Planning Director Valerie Massard said she did not know if the Lees had any plans to move forward with the monopole but that they came before the town to make sure the permits for it didn’t expire.
April showers may bring May flowers, but April can also bring smoother roads in Duxbury since it’s the start of paving season - if the weather ever acts more like spring.
Department of Public Works Director Peter Buttkus said he is hoping to start and finish his list of road paving in April.
The following streets are scheduled to be paved: all of Bayridge Lane; all of Bryant Ave.; a section of Elm Street from Tobey Garden Street to the Route 3 overpass; all of Pricilla Ave.; all of Russell Road; a section of Washington Street from Surplus Street to Harrison Street.
Mattakeesett Court road and parking lot – the town pier – are also on the paving schedule.
“We will be starting sometime this month,” Buttkus said, adding that a number of factor influence the exact date road paving can begin, such as state reimbursement for roadwork, when the contractor T.L. Edwards can begin, when the asphalt plants open for the season and the weather. Unless the weather is warmer and drier, the paving must wait.
Buttkus said the paving is not in any priority list. The contractor will begin with one street and then do all the roads “in one fell swoop,” he said. Buttkus would just like to make sure the paving is done at the town pier well before boating season begins.
T.L. Edwards won the paving bid for the towns in the South Shore Consortium, of which Duxbury is a part.
Buttkus said the town will send out automated calls to residents in areas affected by road paving before the work commences.
A partial demolition plan for the former home of Olga Owens Huckins, the inspiration behind Rachel Carson’s award-winning book, “Silent Spring,” was the focal point of Duxbury Historical Commission’s April 6 meeting.
Commission Chairman Robert “Terry” Vose, who is a neighbor to the property, recused himself from the discussion.
The meeting, which kicked off with a public hearing on the former Huckins’ home, did not result in a yes or no vote for the planned project, but served as a forum for Duxbury residents to voice their opinions on it.
A decision on the historical value of the property, which could result in a sixmonth delay in demolition if the Commission decides the property meets certain criteria in the town’s demolition delay bylaw, will need to be given to property owners within ten days of the public hearing or by April 16.
The house, at 287 Powder Point Avenue, is not what is traditionally considered historic as it dates back to about 1927. But the owner of the home’s role in Carson’s groundbreaking book on the environmental impact of DDT put the home under the purview of the Historical Commission.
Commission vice chairman Robert “Tag” Carpenter, who took over the hearing after Vose recused himself, said the proposed changes to the house include the following: to take down the kitchen and mudroom of the existing building and ultimately construct a new residence alongside the existing property on Powder Point Avenue.
“I’m not sure that we agree that this property is historic,” Carpenter noted.
One resident objected to the recent spate of demolitions of Duxbury’s historic homes.
“This demolition business is going to be a problem for Duxbury,” said resident Jeanne Clark. “Six months (the time for demolition delay if a property is deemed to have historic value), it doesn’t seem to bother people; they are willing to wait it out. We really didn’t foresee this kind of situation. The demolitions, and I am using the plural on purpose, are really more than we ever thought would happen. We are slowly losing the Duxbury people care about. It is going to change radically if we continue on this path.”
Neighbor Emmett Sheehan, who noted his mother’s house abutted the property, said “Both of us think it’s a terrific idea that the homeowners are proposing. The historic part of the house is saved in what they are proposing and they are building a new structure. It’s a win-win.”
Another Powder Point Avenue building under the commission’s consideration, #326, had its demolition delay rescinded at the meeting.
The property owner’s architect Peter Smith and lawyer Matthew Walsh told commission that they have tried many methods to preserve or move or even give away the house on the property, all of which have been deemed either financially or physically impossible.
“It’s not feasible in price or practical to do so,” said Walsh. “The building is essentially a cottage and the millwork is too shabby. We tried to list it on (real estate site) MLS, but they couldn’t list it because it’s a structure, not a property. It’s too gray an area and we’ve run up against insurmountable difficulties everywhere we turn.”
Smith said the exploration of moving the building brought everyone to the conclusion that it would be too expensive to do so.
“The complexity is enormous,” he said. “We would have to do a lot of hand-digging to avoid knocking down the jacks that hold the building up.”
Smith added that he had really hoped to find a method to save the building.
“This is the most difficult thing I’ve done to try and save a building in my lifetime,” Smith said. Historical Commission member Arthur Evans said he saw that the owners had “attempted to abide by the bylaw. Clearly, it’s a major project to move the building. I would be inclined to favor rescinding the delay.”
A majority of commissioners voted to rescind the demolition delay on the property. Vice chairman Carpenter and member Mark Barry voting against lifting the delay.
In Duxbury, there are 52 employees who make six figures – their salaries range from $202,927 at the top of the list to $100,152 at the low end. The police department can lay claim to 18 of these top salaries; the school department has 16 employees who make six figures while the fire department has 11.
Ten years ago only 12 town employees made over six figures.
In looking at the highest paid Duxbury employees for 2015, the top salary goes to the superintendent of schools but close behind him in the top ten are a mix of police and fire employees. Police department employees made up four of the top ten highest paid workers in town.
According to information provided from the finance department and gathered from employees’ 2015 tax forms, at the top of the salary list of all employees is Superintendent Dr. Benedict Tantillo, who earned $202,927 last year.
Police officer Dennis Symmonds, who has been on the force since 1974 and is currently a nighttime shift supervisor, came in second with an annual salary of $158,932.
Fire Chief Kevin Nord is third on the list making $139,819. He has been in command of the Duxbury Fire Department since 2004.
In the fourth spot is Duxbury Police Chief Matthew Clancy, whose annual salary totals $137,950.
Fire fighter PJ Hussey is the fifth highest paid employee; he makes $136,142.
After him is Daniel Brown of the police department with an annual salary of $135,133.
High School principal Andrew Stephens makes $134,862, putting him in the seventh spot.
Town Manager René Read is the eighth highest paid town employee making $133,637. Assistant Superintendent Laurie Hunter is next with a salary of $131,950.
Rounding out the top ten highest paid town employees is long-time police officer Brian Johnson, who makes $128,996.
Of the top 20 highest paid employees, four are on the police force, four are with the fire department and two are with the schools.
Middle School Principal Blake Dalton is 15th on the list; he makes $121,799. Finance Director John Madden claims the 21st spot with an annual salary of $117,974.
Of the top 100 earners, 53 work for the schools, 24 are part of the police department and 14 are members of the fire department.
Battelle is in negotiations to sell its 11-acre property on Washington Street to a residential developer, a spokesperson from the Columbus, Ohio-based company said this week.
“We are still in negotiations with a prospective buyer,” said Battelle spokesperson Katy Delaney Tuesday. “The company that we are dealing with is a residential developer.”
Delaney said she may soon have an announcement on who the buyer is.
“There is nothing to announce yet but we may be close,” she said. “I think it is going to be pretty soon.”
Delaney confirmed that Battelle is not considering an offer from a group that wants to purchase the property and turn it into a marine educational center.
In late February, Coastal Partner LLC put a non-contingent offer on the property that has a price tag in the neighborhood of around $9 million, said Jim Borghesani, a Duxbury resident and spokesman representing Coastal Partners.
This company includes members of the same group that had proposed buying the Battelle land and leasing it to UMass Boston for a satellite campus for a marine sciences program in 2014 after Battelle decided to move its local scientific laboratories from Duxbury to Norwell.
While that deal had a purchase and sales agreement and a conceptual master plan, it never went through as UMass Boston decided not to participate.
Since then, Coastal Partners has been moving forward with an existing consortium of 20 universities that want to use the site for higher education and graduate-level marine studies, The consortium of universities wants to turn Battelle into “a field station for marine education and science,” said Borghesani.
“It’s always been a place for marine research,” he added. “We think that our proposal is in keeping with the way the property has been used.”
Delaney said that Battelle is not considering this group’s offer currently.
“We are in litigation with that group,” she said.
Borghesani said he knew that there was a proposal to build condominiums on the land, which would require a zoning change by Duxbury’s town meeting. The property is on Duxbury Bay near Snug Harbor and is adjacent to houses on one side and the local marina, Bayside Marine, on the other.
According to Borghesani, 160 people have signed an on-line petition calling for Battelle to keep the property for educational use. The petition is backed by Citizens for Ocean Research and Education, a local group is comprised of Duxbury residents and non-residents, academics and business owners.
“We strongly believe the campus should be preserved as a marine research and education facility, and we call on Battelle to help make it happen,” stated Citizens for Ocean Research and Education on the website change.org.
“We know it’s a significant piece of property,” Delaney said. “We want it to be developed the right way. It is to be a respectful redevelopment.”
Battelle, which claims on its website to be “the world’s largest nonprofit research and development organization” has more than 100 locations worldwide including technology centers and laboratories that work on national security, government laboratory management, energy, health and life sciences and the environment.
This past weekend, Duxbury Drama Troupe #355 performed their play “The Sacrificial King” in the state finals.
Of the 3,000 students from 114 schools who participated in the Massachusetts’s Educational Theater Guild’s Festival of Plays, Duxbury High School drama club’s play was recognized as one of the 14 best in the state.
Twenty years ago, the junior choir of St. John The Evangelist Church of Duxbury was chosen to be in the cast of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Colonial Theatre in Boston.
On March 26, the “Dreamcoat” choir members and chaperones got together to celebrate, connect and remember their unique experience.
Duxbury’s Fire Department was called to help rescue a man stuck eight feet down in a trench in Halifax last week.
According to Duxbury Fire Captain Rob Reardon, five Duxbury fire fighters who are part of the Plymouth County Technical Rescue Team were dispatched last Tuesday morning to Halifax to help a man who was buried up to his chest in earth.
The victim had been conducting a septic tank inspection when the sidewall he was standing on collapsed and dirt rained down on him, pinning him in the trench.
For the first time in four years, the town is raising its health insurance rates for its employees and retirees.
On Monday, the Board of Selectmen approved a four percent rate increase at the recommendation of Human Resources Director Jeannie Horne. The increase will affect the Blue Cross Blue Shield PPO and HMO plans. There will be no increase for Blue Cross Blue Shield Medex plan for retirees nor will there be a rate hike for life insurance or dental insurance.
Town officials have supported a request by the Duxbury 2020 Committee to fasttrack a traffic light at Exit 10 of Route 3 near the highway on and off ramps at Tremont Street.
The Board of Selectmen voted unanimously Monday to send a letter signed by chairman David Madigan to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation asking for a traffic signal at Exit 10 “to facilitate the traffic movement on and off the ramps.”
The town has backed away from its practice of offering one-time discounts to water customers who requested them after receiving unusually high bills and has decided to continue its past procedure of looking for leaks at homes before giving rebates.
On Monday, the Board of Selectmen did not approve any of the five requests for one-time water bill adjustments that were before them.
Instead, board members voted unanimously to have the Water Department contact the five homeowners to help them find a cause for their high water bills. The Water Department will be looking for leaks and inspecting meters.
Duxbury resident Anne Bowes fulfilled her life-long dream of winning “Best of Breed” this February at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show – the Superbowl of dog shows – with the help of a little Pembroke Welsh Corgi named Julia.
After that win, they went on to compete in the herding group competition, which was televised live on CNBC at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Julia was pulled out into the top eight from a field of 30 dogs, which was an impressive accomplishment for the then 22-month-old pup and her handler.