Bolton board supports Main Street affordable housing plan

BOLTON – The Select Board is on board with the proposed development at 580 Main St.

Developer Wood Partners is seeking to use the Local Initiative Program route, partnering with the town as it goes through the 40B affordable housing process under state regulations.

Wood Partners Managing Director Jim Lambert detailed responses from the public at a recent forum, and work the firm was doing to address some local concerns. The forum is available through Bolton Cable Access.

“I’ve been very happy with what Wood has been presenting,” Selectman Stan Wysocki said, adding they made a good faith effort.

“From my perspective the additional tax revenue is a huge benefit to the town,” Selectman Bob Czekanski said, as well as not spending fees for 40B and the ability to deny projects in wetlands, “where the 40Bs tend to go.”

“I support this project as well,” Chairman Jonathan Keep said. But he noted that “signing of the agreement is not the end of the negotiation and the Board of Selectmen as well as the ZBA (Board of Zoning Appeals) have more opportunities to tailor this project to Bolton, to our needs and also to future residents of Bolton.

“I’m ready to support the project based on those reassurances,” Keep said.

Noting issues such as energy efficiency and access to the field and community garden, “we intend to work with the town on solving,” Lambert said.

“We heard some really good comments and suggestions and plan to take them into consideration,” Lambert said, with plans for another community meeting prior to filing with the Zoning Board of Appeals, which could happen in three or four months, after the state’s initial approval to start the process. The ZBA will oversee the process, which could last half a year.

Signs seek size waivers

The board handled two sign requests seeking waivers from town bylaw size requirements. Usually short discussions ensue when signs are requested, with the board generally receptive to signs, which they approve under the town bylaw requirements.

But on May 20, the two signs took the largest part of the meeting.

Both applicants said they were not initially aware they needed permits for signs.

The board ultimately opted not to allow a waiver for a sign that the board had approved at its previous meeting on the condition it meet town requirements and go through the town’s process. The sign is larger than permitted, leading Joan Bicchieri to seek the waiver for her home business.

Keep recused himself since Bicchieri is an abutter.

The board approved a sign for Essex Equine on Hudson Road, though it, too, is larger than allowed. But selectmen noted it is in a less dense area, though technically in a residential zone and a larger business.

It was also installed prior to getting permission, Amy Clark acknowledged, leading selectmen to vote a waiver, but with a fine.

“I am an abutter to an abutter of this commercial business,” Wysocki said. “I’m not going to recuse myself. Equine has done a great job; I have no problem with the business.”

In other business

• The board voted commendation letters to Colleen Henderson and Katherine Ickes for earning their Girl Scouts Gold Award.

• The board appointed Shandy Carpenter and Stephen McKeown to the Public Ways Safety Committee.

• A common victualer license was approved for The International Beverage Company for 159 Ballville Road.

“Thank you for issuing this. We hope to open fairly soon,” said Kelly Cardoza, a consultant for the company, after the board voted the license.

• Town Administrator Don Lowe said the town buildings are on track to reopen to the public June 1.

He noted that with 70% of Bolton residents getting vaccinated and 54% having had at least one shot, “we are approaching herd immunity.”

Visitors will have to sign in for contact tracing and plexiglas dividers will remain in place, Lowe said.

He noted the Massachusetts Municipal Association is urging the governor to maintain Zoom meetings as a option.

“We believe it has improved citizen participation. I think it makes meetings more accessible,” with residents able to join a meeting without leaving home, Lowe said.

“Things are moving in the right direction,” Lowe added, “The staff are excited. We’ll be ready to go on June 1.”

• The board reorganized after the recent town election, at which Czekanski was re-elected. They voted Keep as chairman and Wysocki as clerk.

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