Lancaster residents upset that affordable housing hearing adjourned without input
By Clinton Item
Posted at 10:13 AM
Updated at 10:13 AM (10/27/18)
LANCASTER — The Board of Appeals meeting didn’t go the way the officials or audience members wanted, or expected Thursday night.
With the only agenda item being Crescent Builders and Iqbal Ali’s affordable housing project, Goodridge Brook Estates, on Sterling Road, and the applicant not attending, the meeting was adjourned.
BOA Chairman Matthew Mayo explained the meeting was being adjourned with no public input after consultation with town counsel.
“It is a little frustrating for me that, since the last meeting, there has been no new information received by the board,” Mayo said. “I had a discussion with town counsel (Adam Costa) today to get a punch list, a path to move forward.”
According to Costa, in an email Friday, the continuance was discussed in advance with the applicant’s counsel.
“It was determined that sufficient information was not yet available — most notably responses from the applicant to peer review comments received from the board, but also the water capacity study being completed for the board — to justify a further session of the ongoing public hearing,” Costa wrote in an email to The Item. “Such continuances are common with projects that require extensive reviews. Often less is accomplished between meetings than anticipated. These continuances are routinely granted.”
Ali’s project is currently halfway through the 180-day time frame the board has to rule on the project, as outlined by the state’s affordable housing regulations, known as 40B.
“The purpose of these meetings is to make decisions and there are outstanding pieces of information, both on the applicant and town side,” Mayo said. The biggest is the water capacity study, being done by the town. Mayo said the board now has an outline of what needs to be done.
Resident Tom Frain, an attorney, said that with a posted meeting, and the opponents there, residents should be able to speak.
“There are only three meetings left. This takes out a third of the time,” Frain said. “There is so much effort put in to prepare for these meetings.”
Frain later added, “These are peoples’ community on the line.”
Resident Eric Malkowski spoke out.
“We want our time back,” Malkowski said. “They are robbing us of our time.”
BOA members Jeanne Rich and Bob Baylis both reiterated that they were not allowing public comment per town counsel advice since Ali was not there.
Costa, in his email, explained that he advised that “no substantive discussion of the proposal was to be had at a meeting where only a continuance was to occur. That is a requirement necessary to preserve the integrity of the process, including its legality if challenged.”
The hearing was continued until Nov. 29.
After the meeting adjourned, residents remained in the Town Hall auditorium until police came and asked them to leave so the building could be secured, according to reports. A Facebook post said residents continued their discussion in the gazebo that Netflix erected on the Town Green.
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