Amid Waubeeka controversy, public gets a chance to quiz Planning Board candidates Wednesday (4/6/16) at 7 p.m. at Williamstown Elementary School
Please know that The Greylock Independent Wtown PB Candidate Forum is currently scheduled on WilliNet -TV, channel 17 at these times during the next 4.5 weeks, through May 10. (note that it will play at other times as well as the schedule allows):Tuesdays: 4:00 pmWednesdays: 9:30 amFridays: 8:30 pmSaturdays: 1;00 pmHere’s the online link to view the forum:[Sarah Gardner was not able to be present at the forum, since she had to attend an EPA conference in Baltimore (on a subject relevant to her candidacy for the Planning Board: “Local Solutions for Climate Change Preparedness.”) She submitted a video to the forum (https://youtu.be/4QwZq4pT4cc).]
By Bill Densmore
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Five out of six candidates vying for two seats on the Williamstown Planning Board will be on hand Wednesday from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. to present their platforms and credentials to voters in a forum that will be taped for telecast on WilliNet, the town’s public-access cable channel. A sixth candidate, Sarah Gardner, is providing a pre-taped video statement because of a schedule conflict.
The Williamstown Planning Board Candidates Forum was organized by The Greylock Independent and will take place in the auditorium of the Williamstown Elementary School. The public is invited to attend. We are hoping to telecast the discussion live on either Channel 16 or 17 on WilliNet, but for technical reasons, that may not be possible. Town resident and Greylock Independent member Bill Densmore will serve as Moderator. So if Williamstown voters want to ask questions, they should try to be there.
Residents could also email questions to email@example.com or tweet with the hashtag #ephplanners. Statements submitted by the candidates will be posted a day in advance of the forum at http://www.greylockindependent.com or at http://newshare.com/planning
For the forum, each candidate was asked to submit (1) a 300-500 word candidate statement—whatever each wants to say—plus (2) a short bio statement. At the forum, candidates will each make a 90-second statement on why they are running. Each candidate will be invited to direct one question to all or one fellow candidate. Densmore will ask one or two questions, and will forward questions from email, Tweets or from Williamstown residents in the audience. The current Planning Board is embroiled in controversy over a possible time-sharing hotel development in South Williamstown proposed by North Adams entrepreneur and landlord Michael Deep.
*Candidates for election to the two years which remain of one five-year term are Anne Hogeland, Chris Kapiloff, and Bruce McDonald.
*Candidates for election to one full five-year seat are Lindsay Errichetti, Sarah Gardner, and Susan Puddester.
Gardner is currently serving by a Nov. 30 appointment of the Selectmen, by a 5-4 vote, and Planning Board, after the elected member, Carol Stein-Payne, resigned part-way through her five-year term. However, Gardner, a lecturer and associate director of the Williams College Center for Environmental Studies, has filed seeking election to a full five-year seat currently held by Williams College art-history professor Elizabeth McGowan, who is not seeking re-election to that seat. Thus there is no elected incumbent running for either seat, one of which is for a full five years and the other of which is for a partial term.
In March, the Planning Board split, 3-2, with Gardner in the majority joined by Planning Board members McGowan and Ann McCallum, to give a thumbs-down recommendation to voters on Deep’s proposal. Because Deep is not a Williamstown resident, Deep’s attorney Stan Parese obtained signatures of 19 other town residents and filed by Citizen’s Petition a Town Meeting warrant article that would change zoning for a portion of the Waubeeka Land LLC property so that Deep can pursue what he has called a “country inn” lodging development on at least 40 acres. The planning board does not “approve” zoning changes, and doesn’t have a process for doing so. It does have a process for drafting proposed zoning changes, and that has been short-circuited by Deep’s warrant article, which, according to Deep, he filed because he grew tired of waiting for the Planning Board review process to play out.
Wednesday’s forum will not focus exclusively on the Waubeeka controversy. We hope candidates will articulate their views on how the town should manage its zoning and planning, and their visions for the future of land and buildings use in town.
- Greylock Independent coverage of the Waubeeka controversy including Commentary from Anne McCallum, Amy Jeschawitz, Jamie Bairstow, Bill Densmore, Carol and Sherwood Guernsey, and Anne and Andy Hogeland
- VERBATIM, greylocknews.com: The three things Williamstown’s planning-board majority seeks from Mike Deep | Anne McCallum
- VERBATIM, greylocknews.com: An appeal for jobs and development in Williamstown | Amy Jeschawitz
- VERBATIM, greylocknews.com: Statement to town officials from resident Jamie Bairstow of Blair Road
- TEXT, greylocknews.com: Michael Deep’s proposed zoning change for his Waubeeka Golf property to permit time-sharing hotel development
- TEXT, newshare.com: Analysis of Deep’s proposed zoning change warrant article by Ann and Andy Hogeland