To the editor:
At the close of the business week, Rockport Town Hall posts meeting agendas for various official organizations, and the agendas are to the point and illuminating.
That is, until I saw the recent Planning Board Agenda, a facsimile of a legal advertisement detailing a public hearing scheduled for Aug. 16.
The hearing offers amendments to several zoning bylaws, and references the appropriate commonwealth statute that provides for the hearing.
My opinion of Rockport bylaws is well known. I freely admit that my knowledge and comprehension of our Zoning bylaws is virtually non-existent. As I read the agenda/notice in the Times, I recognized terminology that has appears in recent months as the Town has struggled to deal with demolition regulation.
Research went back to a folksy “My View” presentation by two residents as published on July 21. The offering, obfuscated by fluff, details “grass roots” efforts to Preserve Rockport — that is, simply stated, how to keep further unpopular building practices from occurring on Granite Street.
How many people were involved is moot. Petitions were circulated seeking 200 signatures and designed to be included in the warrant for Fall Town Meeting. Attribution for guidance and leadership is given Sam Coulbourn and Eric Hutchinson, with forceful direction that any and all steps must be expedited to reach an unstated goal, but the demanded speed could mean nothing but setting an article before Fall Town Meeting.
Letters to the editor in support of this delayed demolition proposal have been submitted by individuals who might be considered professional lobbyists; some authors are certainly sycophants of local powers that be who want to be seen reading the right pages.
Regardless of the homespun piece by Messrs. Stockton and Kenyon, I find nothing particularly comforting about their proposition. And all the other support appears to me to be the usual Rockport blow-by; given ‘em a cuddle and a squeeze, and they will be ours!
I believe I should be able to sell property to anyone who wants it, as long as there is a fair price; and sell it without requiring the advice and consent of any town authority. There is constant complaining about lack of business in this town, but I’m willing to bet a cottage industry exists for realtors and lawyers specializing in real estate are right in the mix where compensation is constant, and of good quantity. Further, I suspect that, if a table size map of Rockport were available, placing a silver dollar on the Roma Property would cover the addresses of the most vocal supporters of this concept.
Then, there is the timeline for developing, submitting a position, its routings, its approval stops all leading to final presentation, expecting that to occur at Fall Town Meeting. I pulled up and copied GL40A section 5 well before reading the Planning Board agenda. I then went back through easily obtained sources in an effort to retrofit the required due dates to the events that took place in town to advance this thing.
Such attention to detail is almost impossible. So I devised a theory; with all the boards and committees in place, as soon as the Board of Selectmen gave its nod, Koppelman & Paige were directed to craft warrant article language. Assuming that the public hearing scheduled for Aug. 16 produces nothing but a public blessing, we are in for a town vote. I am certain sure that Town Counsel has had a “major construct” for this project and all the i’s are dotted, all the t’s are crossed, and the amendment is in the bag.
Of course, I may hear that all of this effort is really directed to Annual Town Meeting next April. My response to that; research shows fall attendance is much less than that in spring, therefore, the two-thirds plurality will be easier to come by in September.
Another interesting note; bylaws affecting zoning bypass the Bylaw Committee. As far as amending the existing laws, what I, or anyone else may think, our opinions are unnecessary. The action is done.
I think it was Bismarck who observed that making laws and sausages shared much of the same kind of labor. But, as I followed the events leading to this week’s meeting, it has to be wondered; how quickly might we be able to reach a major conclusion, dealing with a genuinely serious town issue?