Selectmen vote 4-1 to oppose Community Preservation Act

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In a 4-1 vote taken Tuesday night, the Board of Selectmen, acting as individual members, said they would not support the Community Preservation Act (CPA) ballot question before Canton residents on Tuesday, April 3.

The act would permit the town to levy a 1 percent tax on residential and commercial property that would be set aside to protect open space and historic properties, and promote outdoor recreation and affordable housing. There are exemptions for senior citizens and an income threshold before the tax would take effect. Town meeting approved the act last spring, which paved the way for the upcoming ballot question. Recently, the Canton Association of Business and Industry (CABI) asked selectmen to oppose the CPA.

At the beginning of the discussion, both Sal Salvatori and Victor Del Vecchio said the public should decide the issue without the opinion of selectmen. During the course of the debate, however, selectmen gave their individual opinions before a vote was taken.

Chairman John Connolly joined Salvatori, Avril Elkort, and Bob Burr in opposition to the measure, citing the burden of additional taxes during challenging economic times as well as rising gasoline prices and utilities. The four selectmen agreed the town has sufficient open space and affordable housing. Salvatori added that the state has not shown a sufficient track record in matching state funds.

Del Vecchio said the CPA could spark development of the vacant Plymouth Rubber property and what he believes would be a high return (25 percent) on investment. He said that Canton is “missing a great opportunity” if the town votes against it.

In another town meeting vote, selectmen unanimously supported the amendment to a covenant to the Meditech property, providing for the construction of 282 parking spaces on a strip of land at the rear of the property abutting Route 128. The amendment would change the ratio of farm and conservation land from 80 to 75 percent and the ratio of commercial space from 20 to 25 percent. The covenant, established in 1980, needs approval from selectmen, town meeting voters, the ZBA, Conservation Commission, the state Department of Conservation and Recreation, and two-thirds of the state legislature.

Attorney Paul Schneiders, representing Meditech, said the company has grown to more than 900 employees, and planners found a strip of land that is not adjacent to the farmland. Trees and a berm would separate the parking spaces from the highway.

In other action Tuesday night, selectmen interviewed Tim Lancaster, the last of the four finalists for the recreation director’s position, and the board may make a decision at its next meeting. The other three finalists were interviewed two weeks ago. Lancaster is the recreation director and superintendent of parks for the town of Dartmouth. He also serves as a lieutenant in the town’s volunteer fire department. He said he is willing to leave Dartmouth in search of a community that supports recreation. His wife works in the Canton area and they may relocate here if offered the position.

In other news:

* Selectmen accepted the resignation of John Wieliczki, the town’s director of assessing, effective June 30. He has worked for the town for 38 years.

* Selectmen read a proclamation honoring the 102nd birthday of Josephine Sylvester.

* Scott Lenhart has resigned as an alternate member of the Zoning Board of Appeals.

* Paul Ducott was appointed to the Health Insurance Advisory Committee as a representative of the Canton Teachers Association.

* Selectmen approved a reserve fund transfer of $19,000 for repairs and maintenance of the town pool and playgrounds.

* Selectmen held a moment of silence in memory of Richard Tynan, who served the community as a member of the Finance Committee and St. John’s Church.

* Selectmen will next meet on Tuesday, March 27, at 7 p.m.

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