“I am writing to explain why I will be voting “No” for ballot Article 8 in the election in March.
The Rescue and Fire Chiefs put together an excellent Q &A presentation last Monday. I came away convinced that the town must begin planning to replace the rescue team’s facilities in the near future and develop a plan to replace or improve the fire station soon after that.
However, Article 8 is a reaction to an offer from a local developer instead of the beginning of a deliberate planning process. I request that the fire and rescue teams create the case that we need to secure a new site for a future station and gain our resident’s approval to purchase a site with a ballot item. Once that is in place, the town can negotiate in good faith with property owners and will spend our town funds evaluating land that we know we have the will and ability to purchase.
Furthermore, I’m concerned that trying to squeeze both the Healthy Living Market and a combined fire and rescue station onto the 4.8-acre lot is not feasible. This parcel is in our town’s mixed-use district which specifies a lot coverage of no more than 50 percent. The proposed plan calls for 70 percent coverage on the fire and rescue station’s 2.2-acre portion. I don’t think we should spend $50,000 to have our own DRB tell us that the plan doesn’t conform to our zoning bylaws. I’m worried that in order to meet the coverage requirements, we’ll be tempted to shrink the building or parking envelope, and in a few years we’ll be back where we started, with a facility that is too small for the town’s needs.
I applaud the efforts of the fire and rescue teams and their leadership. They have convinced me that the time has come to take a hard look at how we will provide the infrastructure necessary for their safe and productive operation in the coming decades. But we need to proceed deliberately and logically. I don’t believe that approving Article 8 is the right way to start this important process.