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Town Issues
JeffSingleton - Sun, Apr 7, 2013, 8:01 A
Democracy now

Good points about the progressive reasons to change the 700 foot minimum. I feel like the critics of this project have tended to ignore its positive aspects in this and other key areas. Although I think the number of units is too many, this project is in many ways a model for progressive development.

As far as the zoning board (ZBA) is concerned, I do not think they are in bed with the developer at all and I do not think they are bad people (I know several of them). For one thing they simply were not convinced by many of the arguments put forward by the critics, particularly the key one that this project would dramatically change the character of the community. To be honest, neither am I.

But the ZBA is in the business of making zoning decisions about things like variances and IMHO they did not do that properly at all. To me, it is a classic example of the abuse of the variance concept, something both the courts and the state have been warning against since the 1920s. I have a problem with going before town meeting and changing the zoning law to make up for that. It is not only wrong but it tends to pit Montague Center against the rest of the town. I also have a big problem with spending hours "listening" to the neighborhood and then going ahead and doing what you were going to do in the first place. Ditto the whole RFP process, which also may have violated state law.

So sorry, Mark 1, if I sound like a reporter on National Public Radio but honestly I do see two sides to this and am not sure how to vote on town meeting. I basically like the project but think the process was a disaster. That matters to me.