By Beth David, Editor
At its meeting on Monday, 11/5, the Fairhaven Selectboard finalized its recommendations for articles on the warrant for the Special Town Meeting scheduled for next week. Members of the public weighed in on the two marijuana-related articles and the Rogers School proposal.
The board voted to support adoption of article 10 to give the board the authority to sell the Rogers School, although the motion from the floor at STM will be to limit that authority by allowing the sale only to New England Preservation & Demolition, LLC, whose principals include Board of Public Works member Michael Ristuccia as restoration consultant, and his grandson Zachary Mayo as Director of Operations.
The board also voted to support Article 11, which would rezone the Rogers School parcel to accommodate the four single homes and 14 condominium units that Mr. Mayo is proposing for the property.
His company is offering $35,000 for the parcel, plus $15,000 in closing fees.
Stephen Kelleher Architects was hired by the town to vet Mr. Mayo’s proposal. Mr. Kelleher told the board that the basic concept was “sound,” but that Mr. Mayo’s numbers were too low and the project will cost more than he estimated.
“We feel the estimates are a little short,” said Mr. Kelleher, specifying that they believed the estimates were $1.5 million too low.
He recommended that the town get a performance bond in case Mr. Mayo finds his financing is not sufficient to finish the project. Then the bond company would complete the project.
Mr. Kelleher also mentioned some specific code and lifestyle needs that the old building might not be able to accommodate to be transformed into 14 condos. He noted the need for zoning changes and variances.
“So, there are a lot of those small issues,” said Mr. Kelleher, adding that Mr. Mayo had “a long way to go” to create condo spaces that will sell at a reasonable cost.
Mr. Mayo said that he believed Mr. Kelleher’s numbers were “retail oriented,” and that is why they did not match.
He said he will personally be on site and will rely on his grandfather, Michael Ristuccia, to help out, which will help keep costs down.
Mr. Ristuccia reiterated that Mr. Kelleher’s numbers were retail oriented. He said there is a “huge difference” between retail and residential. He told the board that he had experience with historic buildings.
Mr. Ristuccia said his grandson brings “energy and youthfulness” to the table while he brings “wisdom and know-how.”
Doug Brady, an abutter to the Rogers School and a member of the Rogers School Committee, said the project was good for the neighborhood and the town because it would create four single homes and it would re-use the old building.
Selectboard Chair Daniel Freitas, also a member of the Rogers Committee, supported the project. He reminded the public that they could not get anyone to respond to the three Requests for Proposals.
“We begged for bids,” said Mr. Freitas, and got only one.
He referred to the 11/1/18 Planning Board meeting, which, in a split vote, voted against recommending the rezoning article that would have to pass in order for the project to be built. He said he disagreed with the comments and the discussion and encouraged people to watch the meeting online.
The project calls for 10,000-square- foot lots, which are smaller than current zoning, but more in line with what is already in the neighborhood, said Mr. Mayo. That would require a variance to build those homes.
Article 11 in the STM Warrant for 11/13, asks TM members to rezone the property for multi-family units to accommodate the condos. That would require a 2/3 vote at TM.
The Selectboard voted to support the article.
Mr. Mayo’s original proposal, updated proposal and the report by Stephen Kelleher Architects is available on the town’s website at https://www.fairhaven-ma.gov/ rogers-study-committee/pages/ rogers-school-project-proposals
The board still did not take a stand on the retail marijuana moratorium, leaving it as “yield to the petitioner.”
They did, however, vote to support the Planning Board’s proposed bylaw regulating where retail marijuana shops can be located in Fairhaven, and establishing that each outlet will require a special permit by the Planning Board.
In another matter, the board met with the Board of Assessors to set the tax rate for FY19. The board agreed with the BOA to keep the tax shift at 1.75. The new rate will be slightly lower than last fiscal year, but because property values rose, residents will see an increase in taxes, not a reduction.
The new residential rate is $11.67 per $1,000, down from $11.75 in FY18. The new commercial rate is $23.47 per $1,000, down from $23.76 in FY18.
The average price of a home in Fairhaven increased from $272,739 to $286,122.
No members of the public chose to speak during the hearing.
In other business, the board appointed Bob Espindola to be the board’s representative on the Marine Resources Committee, a post that Mr. Freitas often stated he wanted to give up. Mr. Freitas traded the SRTA committee and also picked up Library Board of Trustees so that all board members now have six committees.
The board also announced that BASK, the town’s medical marijuana facility, made its first payment of $17,000 under the host agreement. The quarterly payment is based on the company’s revenues.
Tim Keogh said his company hopes it will increase in the future.
“We want to continue to be a quiet success for the town,” said Mr. Keogh.
Town Meeting will also be asked to re-allocate funds for the new salaries as agreed upon in the new wage and classification study for town employees. The money has already been budgeted, but now needs to be allocated to specific departments.
TM will also be asked to support the following articles that the Selectboard voted to adopt: an additional $45,000 for the wheelchair accessibility project at the Academy Building/Visitors Center; $50,000 to fix the ceiling in the Assessors office; $147,000 to repair the sewer pipe at the Fire/Police Station; $75,000 for handheld meter readers for the water department; acceptance of Doane Court and Reynolds Drive.
The board did not vote to support the removal of the restriction on the liquor license at Emma Jean’s which requires it to stay at that location. The board will make that decision at Town Meeting. •••
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