Close TM vote could end ‘great pond’ status for Rez

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In the closest vote of the two town meeting sessions last week, voters on Wednesday, May 10, narrowly approved an article that authorizes the Board of Selectmen to petition the state legislature to remove Reservoir Pond’s status as a “great pond” and permit the board to regulate the use of the town-owned waterway.

A view of Reservoir Pond courtesy of George T. Comeau

A view of Reservoir Pond courtesy of George T. Comeau

In a hand-counted vote, the final tally was 62 voters in favor of the article and 55 opposed.

Selectmen sponsored the article, arguing that the pond is man-made and therefore should not be classified as a great pond under state statute. The measure now goes before the state legislature for consideration as a home rule petition.

Selectmen Chairman Mark Porter, contacted after the meeting, said the main purpose of the article was to ensure that selectmen maintain the right to regulate usage of the pond.

“There was some concern from town counsel that if the great pond status was removed due to the intervention of another party, without this article passing we could have more limited authority to regulate,” Porter said. “While virtually all of the abutters to the pond are cooperative and well meaning, a very small proportion have shown a tendency to push the rules. This legislation will allow us to protect the pond for those who use it.”

Leading the charge to oppose the measure was resident George Comeau, who felt that the existing great pond status provided the necessary controls for selectmen to regulate the pond while protecting public access for all.

In other town meeting action concerning Reservoir Pond, voters authorized $950,000 in long-term capital spending to fix seepage issues at the Pleasant Street dam and $53,000 in Community Preservation Act funds to pay for a detailed landscape plan for the Earl Newhouse Waterfront. Residents’ opinions on the Newhouse study were mixed, with some suggesting that it would only duplicate the efforts of previous plans for the area. However, Town Planner Laura Smead said she did not find any detailed survey, landscaping, or engineering plans in her review of past studies.

Porter, contacted after town meeting, said the next step for selectmen is to move forward with the study to maximize the uses of the Newhouse waterfront and then seek the funding to execute the plan.

The $53,000 for the Newhouse study was one of three planning studies that were bundled together as a single CPA spending request ($150,000) in an effort to save money. The other two projects were an updated open space and recreation plan and a comprehensive trails plan.

All told, voters approved more than $1 million in spending requests for eight CPA projects as they followed the recommendations of the town’s Community Preservation Committee to the letter. Also approved were $401,300 to restore and rehabilitate the Tilden and Devoll playgrounds; $173,500 to partially fund the construction of restrooms and a storage facility at the JFK fields; $149,975 to cover the excess costs of installing a copper roof on the Revere rolling mill; $80,000 to install exhaust fans at the Rubin Court senior housing complex; $35,000 to restore and preserve the Washington Street library entrance; $28,000 to fund an architectural study and code assessment of Pequitside Barn; and $20,000 for a permanent conservation restriction for the Paul Revere Heritage Site.

In other news:

* Voters approved a special tax agreement with Fresenius Kabi (FK), a global healthcare company based in Germany. The company chose Canton among several other greater Boston communities to develop a new pharmaceutical compounding facility at 20 Dan Road. In exchange for the tax break, the company pledged to invest more than $8 million into the facility, create more than 65 permanent full-time jobs within five years, and give preference for construction jobs to local businesses. FK also pledges a $5,000 donation to the Canton Senior Center and $1,000 for a student scholarship. The tax agreement provides the company with $225,000 in tax relief over a five-year period from 2018 to 2023. Over that same period, the town will receive $525,000 in property taxes. The agreement includes a recapture provision if the business does not fulfill its obligations or relocates. The provision gives the town the ability to seek repayment for a portion of the tax that had previously been forgiven.

* Voters approved New Boston Road as a town way with a future plan by selectmen, the Planning Board, and DPW to seek expedited application procedures.

* Voters approved a 20-year payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreement with Dynamic Energy Solutions of Marlboro. The company plans to install solar panels on land owned by North End Motors on Route 138 and will pay the town $21,444 per year over the life of the agreement.

* Voters authorized $1.74 million for replacement of the Hansen School roof. However, only $1 million will be financed as the town has been approved for a partial reimbursement (44.5 percent) from the Massachusetts School Building Authority.

* Voters sided with a majority of FinCom members and agreed to keep salary and compensation for part-time elected officials the same as in previous years. This includes $2,400 for each member of the Board of Assessors; $600 for each member of the Board of Health; $1,400 for each selectman plus an additional $200 for the chairperson; and no compensation for members of the Planning Board, School Committee, and Library Board of Trustees.

* With no opposition at all, voters approved a total operating budget of $88.5 million for FY18, which includes a 5.6 percent increase for the schools and a 4.7 percent increase for the municipal side. Town meeting concluded with the budget vote at around 10:30 p.m. with about 50 residents in attendance at meeting’s end.

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avatar Posted by on May 19 2017. Filed under News, Town Government. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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