Cohasset ConCom votes for new Ford hearing

Acting Town Manager Mike Milanoski has solved his first problem that did not result in someone getting fired. Way to go Mike! We’re proud of you.

Conservation agent Paul Shea and Building Inspector Bob Egan are now good pals because Milanoski sat down with them and worked out forms and required check lists. HE SOLVED A PROBLEM! YAY! ConCom Chair Jack Creighton said “Yes, I believe I saw a miracle. Shea and Egan shook hands.” Creighton added that that the Conservation Commission was well served by Shea.

The Ford Brothers Hearing – 559 Jerusalem Road

Ok. Here’s the news.

Chris and Ted Ford told the Acting Town Manager and ConCom Chair Jack Creighton at a private meeting this week they were willing to stay their lawsuit until the conservation commission reconsidered its application for a storm water permit.

At last nights’ meeting all hell broke loose.

Commissioner Ed Graham said: “I was served by leaving summons in my door. Thought summons had to be handed to me. I was in N.H.”  Other commissioners seemed stunned that they had gotten summoned. What really happened here is that Milanoski would not allow the ConCom to use Town Counsel who knows how to handle these things and the Ford’s attorney, Charles Humphreys, was forced to notify abutters the old-fashioned, but still very legal way. Only local abutters received notices and only they need to receive notices. Normally, Town Counsel, or a real Town Manager would have accepted the lawsuits and individual members of the ConCom would not have been served at their homes. Now they are all scared.

Humphreys said “We received negative determination on our notice of intent and and the bylaw affords us the right to appeal that part of procedure. We took that appeal as our only resource. If we are able to obtain a more favorable decision we will drop appeal.”

Milanoski- said:  “Humphreys did provide an extension – am sure he would provide a longer extension if committee wishes to reconsider. The appeal they have right now, if they withdraw, would they not just be submitting the same appeal back?”

ConCom Vice Chair David Farrag said – “There would probably be a different set of factors – different counts.”

 

Associate Member Pat Kennedy said “The facts could be incorporated within the current lawsuit.”

Commissioner Ed Graham said:  “In most of our cases, the general contractor is usually brought in. We haven’t asked who that would be (It’s Hap Pompeo, kids). During his statement, Graham also announced he was a member of the Straits Pond Association – which puts him in a conflict situation. Graham said he had serious questions about how get equipment in and out of the building area.  “It could be an infraction of the 50-ft. zone.” Graham said he wanted assurances.

Abutter Peter DeCaprio said:  -“You asked applicant to drop their suit and reopen the hearing; they want to retain all their rights but also want you to reopen the hearing.” (Actually – DeCaprio is wrong. DeCaprio’s attorney asked the Fords to drop their lawsuit before reconsideration. The ConCom never did. )

Your worthy blogger then asked: HOW DOES THEIR NOT WITHDRAWING THEIR SUIT HURT ANYTHING AT ALL?  Great question. No answer.

ConCom Vive Chair David Farrag advised his committee that he worried what the judge would do regarding the current lawsuit. Would he remand the commission or orver-turn the decision? Farrag’s main concern was over the members of the committee who had not been present for all the hearings and who had voted anyway. We thought Ed Graham was a safe vote, now we discover he’s a member of he Straits Pond Association and he’s in conflict. Another arrow in the Ford Brothers’ quiver.

ConCom Chair Jack Creighton appeared to be the only member of the commission willing to deal. Everyone else was stunned because they were being sued. Of course, they’re all newbees – not used to the real world of regulatory boards being sued. Which is why in summer 2011 the board of selectmen should not have purged the board by replacing two thirds of its members.

Creighton said Greg DeCesar from DEP would hold off on issuing a decision until things could be worked out

DeCaprio predicted that DEP would issue favorably for the Fords.

Shea said that the DEP has so many appeals right now that they would be happy to back out. “The Applicant would like to work it out” as opposed to spending two years in Superior court

DeCaprio (an abutter to the property in question) said he felt ConCom should let Superior Court deal with the issue. “Why reopen the hearing with the threat of litigation hanging over your head?”

Farrag noted that the first issue a judge might consider would be the validity of the ConCom’s vote. Click here to see the problems.

DeCaprio said- “what’s the concern?”

Farrag said:  “Not all members were at the hearing.”

Associate member Pat Kennedy said:  -“One issue is legal expenses. Everyone here was served with a lawsuit.”

DeCaprio said “No sweat.  After the Superior Court rules, the conservation commission change its vote.”

Humphreys said the purpose of reconsideration is to address questions raised by members.

Creighton said “Our role is to uphold the bylaw. I believe we will prevail in superior court.”

Out in the parking lot after the meeting, Chris Ford wasn’t sure what his course of action would be. How could he be? Milanoski has removed Town Counsel from the scene. The Boy Town Manager is running the show.

And it’s going to be a doozey.

If I didn’t live here I could enjoy this a whole lot more.

© Copyright 2012 Tanna K, All rights Reserved. Written For: Tinytown Unleashed
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