from Bill Densmore
My personal view is that the Citizen’s Petition as proposed by Stan Parese is a blank check for potential overdevelopment of Waubeeka without any permanent protection of the open space remaining. So the idea of substantially amending it at town meeting has some merit. But I have two reasons why I, personally, would not support that approach:
— Someone competent in zoning and planning–probably a lawyer–will have to spend substantial time crafting a substitute amendment—essentially replacing Stan’s language with something wholly new. Who is going to lead that process? Who is going to pay for it? How will we know, as voters at town meeting, that it is legal and not subject to immediate challenge?
— This is precisely what we elect the Planning Board to do. The planning board majority has attempted to do that, in respectful collaboration with the proponent, and has found him unwilling to facilitate the process in any meaningful way. To end-run the Planning Board and have some unelected person or entity, without the input of the town in any official way, develop a zoning change which would undo a decades-old declaration of intent by Town Meeting about appropriate zoning for South Williamstown–smacks of Keystone Kops government.
— There is no rush here, other than the proponent’s pushing. Personally and as a citizen, I will be lobbying at town meeting to reject any consideration of rezoning and send the whole matter back to the Planning Board, where it belongs, for further consideration and action. Developers planning projects in Williamstown have to understand that they need to pass through the hoops of Planning Board approval if they want to get anything done.
— This is not a referendum on whether you support economic development in Williamstown; it is a referendum on whether you support a process of good government. The debate about how and where we support economic development properly belongs with the Planning Board, among other places.
— Where we should be having the referendum on zoning is in consideration of whom we elect, on May 10, to fill two open seats on the Planning Board. I think that is the critical public-service The Greylock Independent can provide over the next few weeks.