By Beth David
FAIRHAVEN — The Fairhaven Selectboard had a room full of residents at its meeting on Monday, 5/2, for two issues on its agenda.
Auto dealers and marina owners turned out in force to discuss the proposed bylaw changes submitted to Town Meeting by the Planning Board.
Article 33 would add restrictions to auto dealers and service stations in town. But it was the addition of the word “boats” that got the Fairhaven Shipyard and other marina owners motivated to speak out.
Kevin McLaughlin, owner of the Fairhaven Shipyard, told the board that with all the regulations he has to contend with, and all the neighborhood complaints, he always thought the town had his back.
He read from parts of the town’s Master Plan that emphasize the importance of the working waterfront and how to maintain the character of the town.
Rui DaSilva, who owns Artistic Auto, reiterated his complaint that he is constantly “picked on” and is being “harassed” by town officials.
The Planning Board had heard from the same group and, at its last meeting, had voted to pull the article and start the process over.
Selectboard members said there was no reason for them to vote, because the article was dead.
Mr. McLaughlin, however, was not finished. He also took exception to Article 32, which proposes requiring a significant bond, among other things, for developers.
Mr. McLaughlin said that the proposal will discourage growth and business in town.
That article was also petitioned by the Planning Board, so the Selectboard had voted to “yield to the petitioner,” as it usually does.
But after hearing the complaints, the board changed its vote to “indefinite postponement,” to show its opposition to the change.
Article 32, will be debated and voted on at Town Meeting on Saturday.
In another matter that packed the room, the board voted to fill the seat on the Board of Public Works that became vacant when Daniel Freitas won his seat on the Selectboard.
Mr. Freitas beat out incumbent Goeffrey Haworth, who has also served on the BPW.
Mr. Haworth, Phil Washko and Jarrod Lussier all applied for the position.
In a bit of an awkward set-up, the regulations call for the Selectboard, by itself, to vote for the BPW replacement, instead of a joint meeting, which is often how it works. But new Town Administrator Mark Rees looked up the law and discovered the rule.
BPW members were present and so were all three applicants, so the board asked the three to make statements and answer questions before the vote.
BPW chairperson Michael Ristuccia said he believed it was all just an “exercise,” because he believed all three board members had made their decisions before entering the room.
Board member Bob Espindola said he had decided, but that he also wanted to talk to the three before voting.
Mr. Murphy said he wanted to meet Mr. Lussier before deciding.
Mr. Freitas made it clear that he knew whom he would not vote for.
He said more than once that he did not want a person who would “micro manage” the department. He did not mention Mr. Haworth by name.
Mr. Washko has served on several boards, not least of which was the Government Study Committee which recommended abolishing the BPW.
BPW member Brian Wotton said he did not understand why Mr. Washko would want to be on a board he wanted to dismantle.
Mr. Washko said he did not want to dismantle it, that it was a misrepresentation of what his committee did.
Mr. Lussier is new to politics, and a virtual unknown. He told the board he was a licensed plumber and wanted to get involved in the town. The vacancy on the BPW seemed like the right opportunity.
In the end, Mr. Murphy and Mr. Freitas voted for Mr. Lussier. Mr. Espindola made a motion for Mr. Haworth, but it was not seconded.
In another matter, the board also recognized Fairhaven High School senior Keegan Fike who won the Operation Home Front 2016 Coast Guard Military Child of the Year Award.
Mr. Fike told the board that his family had moved so many times that Fairhaven was the first time he had been in the same school for consecutive years.
The board commended Mr. Fike on how he has adjusted to the moves.