By Ann Chang
I intend to stand up at Town Meeting (on night two) and oppose the motion of the Acton Water District to pass over Article 28.--ground water protection district.
I think this is a mistake and Acton needs to pass this article now before the Concord Town Meeting votes to purchase the land.
Last year the Concord Town meeting voted to purchase a site on Knox Trail ( down near Stop & Shop) to park their school buses and in the future move their truck depot from the Keyes Road location to this site. Unfortunately, the site is a zone three for the most productive Acton wells.
Both the Acton selectmen and the AWD met with the Concord selectmen and Town Manager to discuss Acton's opposition to the use of this site for those purposes. Acton hired an outside counsel because both towns share the same town counsel. One of the reasons for hiring outside counsel was to see if the Dover amendment applies to the parking of school buses. The Dover amendment allows schools and religious organizations to by pass local zoning.
The AWD, with the agreement of the selectmen, put Article 28 on the warrant.
It turns out that there are questions about the title of the parcel Concord voted to buy. Since they are under pressure to find a place to park their buses, they picked a second, but smaller lot off, of Knox Trial. This lot will not accommodate the Keyes Road depot UNLESS Concord is able to buy some of the abutting Grace property in Concord to extend the site. This smaller site and the Grace land in Concord are also in Acton's zone three for the wells.
On March 19, prior to their annual meeting the AWD commissioners voted to pass over Article 28.
I have had multiple discussions with Ron Parenti to find out why and see if I could convince them to change their mind.
Their reasons seem to revolve what they call "unintended consequences" meaning they have not looked at all the zone three lands in town to see what sort of impact this zoning change will have on those sites. Their plan is to "work over the summer and make the article better and come back at a fall town meeting with the changes.
This spring, the Concord Town Meeting will vote on the purchase of this second site. Since neither the selectmen, AWD or the hired counsel seems to have had any impact, it is time for the voters at Concord's Town Meeting to hear what the Acton Town Meeting thinks. I don't know if this will have any impact BUT I think they need to hear our voice of objection to the possible pollution of our wells.
By passing this article Acton is voting on a public health issue. If and when we come to fight Concord on this matter, I think any reasonable judge will consider the well-being of a community in keeping its water clean will trump any stretching of the Dover amendment to cover the parking of school buses.
If we wait till the fall to pass this article---the school buses will be in place. Concord is not going to wait around, they will start using the site Once there---they will be harder and far more costly to dislodge.
If Concord buys this second site and then uses it as a gateway onto the Grace land, we will never have any recourse for the protection of our wells. Concord is not known to take the concerns of its neighbors seriously. Again, the means for Acton to proceed with any protective measures will be costly.
Unintended consequences have never stopped the passage of zoning articles in the past. There is a long list of horrible votes made by Town Meeting. I want this passed now because it is time sensitive . The AWD and planning board can work over the summer, as they have planned to "fix" what has been passed by Acton Meeting.