Northborough Patch posed the question about my reaction to Town Meeting and the fact that the citizens petitions on zoning bylaws have passed.
I am very pleased with the outcome. Pleased that numerous citizens took their time to vote, in hopes, to make a change. They were successful at it. Although I was the person to present this articles, it was put together by several citizens. I took it upon myself to be the voice. It was hard to hear some of the negative comments at town meeting about the citizen petitions. Calling this due to NIMBY and referencing a white picket fence.
The truth is, yes, this process began for me on 1-24-2012 at the first public hearing for the 130 Main project. A man I never met before stood up and said these bylaws were changed in 2009 and he explained he tried to stop it. He said there is nothing you can do about it now. Then he made a comment: "there's not enough time before town meeting to make a change."
Well, what he didn't know was, at that hearing there was a very driven, determined woman in the room. He piqued my curiosity. I remembered his name and contacted him, and from there things moved forward. His name is Brian Smith, and he was one of the citizens also involved in the passing of these citizen petitions. From that initial hearing there were other concerned citizens that I contacted and got on board. As time passed, more citizens came forward. Citizens have been concerned about this since 2009 and have continued to be concerned through present. These concerns should be a shock to no one.
The planning board and zoning committee have both agreed that something needs to be done. I know they will work on these issues, in time. The citizens wanted action now and that is why these petitions passed. Waiting for a year for a revision was not a risk that the citizens wanted to take. The goal was to preserve their rural town. We were able to get the word out through various and multiple media sources, email, phone calls, and flyers. More of an effort was made to contact citizens than your average public hearing notice.
Even though there were several citizens in attendance at Town Meeting, there would have been more if the meeting did not go on so late. I know some families wanted to vote yes on the petitions but were just unable to stay there with their kids until 11 p.m.
I think the outcome shows that this is what the citizens wanted. Although there was not an official count on the votes; I could see that only maybe 20 or fewer people voted against it. Several members on several boards voted yes as well. It has given me hope that there is a chance we can further keep this town more rural than an urban feel. Maybe a developer will build "cottage dwellings" rather than apartments. They could market them as small and affordable. I URGE more people to be involved. Attend town hearings and vote at town meeting. You really can't complain if you are not going to make an effort to make things better.
The bylaw committee and boards worked extremely hard and long hours in preparation to change the bylaws in 2009. That was never in question. The citizens used their right at Town Meeting to make a change that they could not get done any other way. It's nice to know at town meeting you can be heard.
I think it would be an accomplishment if the boards would listen a little more closely to what their citizens expect and are asking for. There have been several citizen groups formed in the last few years. All that have been disappointed with certain boards. There are similarities too. The boards are capable of doing more for the citizens but choose not to. It's something that needs to be addressed. I hope the current and new selectmen listen to the citizens.
I have been asked by several people what my future role will be in town. At this moment, I'm not sure. I really did this for the people as well as myself. I am a caring person; I felt compelled to help. I had to get involved.
I feel like my life has been on hold for the last four months starting with the 130 Main St. and ending with the Town Meeting. I need to get back to what is my number one priority; my family. I hope to use this blog to keep in touch. I don't know if I can ever go back to not being involved at all.... I have enjoyed the people, the contact, the ensemble; and it's been a great pleasure.