Archive 2008 - 2019

Night Two -- Annual Town Meeting, May 10, 2016

by Nancy Farrell


With the Town's budget approved and much of the work on Planning and Zoning Board by-laws behind us, the second night of Town Meeting brought out 137 townspeople to discuss and vote on the downtown traffic lights, on senior housing zoning by-laws, and more.


To see if the Town will vote to amend the Holliston Zoning By-Laws at Section V-J Flood Plain District Regulations to correct references to a FEMA flood study and insurance rate maps for Middlesex County (effective date July 7, 2014) as well as other language to comply with National Flood Insurance Program regulations.

Article 24 was approved unanimously.



To see if the Town will vote to amend the Zoning By-Laws at Section V-P Senior Residential Dwelling Development Requirements, sub-section 5. Special Definitions to allow for developments on one parcel or contiguous parcels totaling at least 10 acres in size under a. Age-Restricted Development or Senior Residential Dwelling Development and to clarify that a qualified non-profit entity may hold a conservation restriction on the designated open space if it to be held by a condominium association.

Jim  Glidden, 175 Cedar St., expressed concern that the proposed reduction in minimum acreage for Senior residential housing was not good policy, a change that is a profit objective of a single developer. He urged voters to protect Holliston's open space by keeping  the current bylaw restriction, as is, at 15 acres.  

Taro Matsuno explained that part of the reasoning for the change is to allow the building of more housing for seniors to stay in our community.  He said that we should be thinking about housing that is denser, more walkable, and more accessible.

Mary Greendale pointed out that there are few options for seniors who want to downsize and stay in town. It is worth considering too that denser residences means lots of land for open space. There are now a lot of people in this age group, It would be wonderful to have housing that fits the needs, someplace walkable and part of the community for this transitional stage for seniors.  A lot of other towns have done it, she said.

John Beling is 55 in two weeks, he told us, keeping up with this trend at the podium. He thinks we as a town are doing good with open space, but are we doing enough for our seniors? He also pointed out that denser housing is better for open space.

Karen Sherman made it clear that beyond the bylaw regulations, the Planning Board has a thoughtful, thorough review process.

Marty Lamb, 57 Wingate, said that there is a need for this type of housing in Holliston.

Donna Kowisen, pointing out the high number of the ongoing developments, there are opportunities to develop these communities in town without making this bylaw change. These are developments that will be cropping in every neighborhood in town. We should do this carefully. She said that infrastructure is already a problem -- water and  traffic, especially -- in some of the areas where new developments are being built.

David Adams, 323 Courtland, local developer, has built, he said, a lot of pretty houses in this town. He said that he had recently become Interested in smaller houses, now become profitable. The development on Indian Ridge is going to be a pretty parcel with open space, about 40-50 units, to bring in about $200,000 in taxes. Road work is done by the condo association. And kids ARE expensive, he said.

A motion to move the question was defeated.

Gary Sencio questioned whether the bylaw change was arbiitrary in terms of why it is happening now or rather coincidental to David Adam's intention to build. Your neighborhood could be next, he warned.

Planning Board member Taro Matsuno reminded Town Meeting that this is not a motion to approve a particular site. He endorsed the reduction to 10 acres for senior housing, saying that encouraging denser development is more in keeping with the needs of our citizens.

Town resident Jared Adams, whose family has been in Holliston since the 1700s, has served long and earnestly on many town boards. He advised that we have a workable town now; that we shouldn't change it and add more developments.

Lisa Robinson described moving here because of the green space. She said that she is for senior housing, but said that  the site in discussion is not appropriate for seniors or for a development due to the failing infrastructure.

Tom Bolton, sensitive to both sides, said we should get better information.

Geoff Zeamer said that having seen a large development for senior housing, it seems that the better idea is not do the big parcel. You can vote for one and not be opposed to the other, he said, and smaller units is a better deal. He supports the change to 10 acre minimum.

Dan Alfred, 215 High St., speaking as a town resident, said that there is one big problem -- revenue is the problem, cash is the big problem. Voting against Article 25 is voting against increased new revenue.

Mark Schultz said that there is no reason for seniors to be forced out. The real issue is the 10 and 15 acres difference. We should trust the planning and zoning boards to do their jobs. He loves the open space, but we should keep in mind the idea that the density creates open space.

Warren Chamberlain, Roy Ave., member of the Planning Board and Housing Trust, says that he is sad because he is being systematically excluded. Seniors have downsized and outsourced themselves all over the country. But why? 68% is going to the school budget. He said that there needs to be opportunities to make lateral mores within the community. . Mr. Chamberlin thinks that he may have to leave town.  If he leaves town, and a family with three kids moves in, there is a loss of revenue. Mr. Chamberlin thinks this is a good plan. If you really think about this, it's about the future, you have to maintain the demographics, he said.

There is a motion to move the question to a vote which  passes.

Article 25 was defeated 124-127.(Article 25 was reconsidered within the one-half hour and again defeated.)


To see if the Town will vote to amend the Zoning By-Laws at Section V-P(3) Establishment and Delineation of Senior Residential District  by adding Assessors Map 14, Block 3, Lot 1 to the map entitled “Senior Residential District” dated April 2005 (revised May 2006). The parcel is 12.67 acres and is located off Indian Ridge Road and Indian Ridge Road South; or take any action relative thereto. (Zoning Board of Appeals and Planning Board)

The Finance Committee motion to  recommend indefinite postponement of Article 26.

Gary Sencio, Cheryl Lane, asked whether the defeat of Article 25 makes Article 26 mute. The answer was yes.

Henry Dellicker, Chairman of the Zoning Board of Appeals, said that he had voted for this because of all the thought that went into it. But it needs more thought, maybe a cap and some percentage for units set aside for Holliston residents. Developers will go for the biggest market. Broaden the bylaw and make it more reasonable and better for the town, he said.  And then it was just one of those things, when Mr. Dellicker asked the Moderator Mrs. Dellicker for a point of order.  

Article 26 is indefinitely postponed.



To see if the Town will vote to amend the Zoning By-Laws at Sections I-E Definitions, III-A Schedule of Uses, and VII Site Plan Review to add regulation of Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers as follows:

Item 1. Add the following at Section I-E Definitions:

Medical Marijuana Treatment Center/Registered Marijuana Dispensary – As defined in the Humanitarian Medical Use of Marijuana Act, GL c. 94C, means a not-for-profit entity registered under 105 CMR725.100, that acquires, cultivates, possesses, processes, transfers, transports, sells, distributes, dispenses, or administers marijuana, products containing marijuana, related supplies or educational materials to registered qualifying patients or their personal caregivers. Unless otherwise specified, this is a site for dispensing, cultivation and preparation of medical marijuana.


Item 2. Add the following at Section III-A Schedule of Use Regulations:

52. Medical Marijuana Treatment Center/Registered Marijuana Dispensary

Industrial District – Y (Permitted Use)

Item 3. Amend Section VII Site Plan Review, sub-section 2. Applicability of Site Plan Review as follows:

(b)(v.) No new Medical Marijuana Treatment Center/Registered Marijuana Dispensary…..shall be allowed except in conformity with a site plan bearing an endorsement of approval from the Planning Board; or take any action relative thereto. ( Planning Board)


COMMENTS:  This article is submitted in accordance with a vote of the Planning Board on March 17, 2016.

Town resident Ann Chipman, Stagecoach Road, asked for support to amendments to the Article 28 that will redefine the terms in the Article to reflect the Mass State Statute on this topic, add a special permit process and limit zoning around schools and the rail trails.

Selectmen Jay Leary explained that the purpose of the Article is to allow the Planning Board to get a site plan review for the planned cultivation facilities to consider landscaping and lighting, but it is not meant to be a hindrance. The licensing for these facilities is difficult and takes a long time.
Jay Leary and BOS support the article as presented by Planning Board and cautioned that it is a mistake to conflate the possible November ballot question on recreational marijuana use and regulations for medical marijuana use. This is an economic development issue, said Mr. Leary.

Chairman of the Board of Selectmen Jay Marsden said that the board's position has been that this is a legal activity.  At regional meetings, Mr. Marsden hears from other towns interested in this economic development.  He asks that we approve the article as written.

Kevin Conley said that the cultivation facilities are not marked: there are no signs saying "marijuana in here."  Medway and Franklin are seeking out this kind of business. The businesses talked about here are for cultivation only. He said that it is unlikely that retail facilities would ever be allowed. And with an estimated $150,000 per facility, he urged that we stay with the original.

There was a long sorting out of amendments to the amendment and numerous changes of enumeration.

Aislinn Weaver asked whether the industrial park restriction included all industrial parks and whether the criminal element affiliated with medical marijuana facilities was addressed. The facilities are restricted to the industrial parks, all of them. He said with strict regulations, distance from schools and generic look of the site will make the cultivation facilities work here.

Taro Matsuno said that the  Planning Board had talked a lot about security and that the intent of the Article was to define the use and make it easier to review the site plan, including security features.  

Proposed Amendment was defeated.

Article 28 was approved.




To see if the Town will vote to authorize the Board of Selectmen to sell the former Andrews School located at 17 School Street for the purposes of demolition, redevelopment, and or housing consistent with the Town’s General By-laws and Zoning By-laws; or to take any action relative thereto.  (Board of Selectmen)


COMMENTS:   This Article would authorize the Board of Selectmen to sell the former Andrews School including the land.

Article 29 was approved.



To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate, transfer from available funds or borrow a sum of money for the purpose of roadway and streetscape improvements, including traffic signals and engineering costs, in the downtown area; or take any action relative thereto.  (Board of Selectmen)

COMMENTS:  If approved, this project would require a debt exclusion and approval as a ballot question for the voters of the Town to consider at the May 24th Annual Town Election. 

Town resident and owner of the Holliston Grill David Ullenbrach asked why weren't the pedestrian lights voted on at last year's meeting put in. Mr. Ullenbrach emphasized the importance of keeping the parking spaces to the downtown businesses and made a motion to indefinitely postpone Article 30. 

Ken Szajda reports that the Finance Committee recommends favorable action on this Article. He said that there is a cap on the $1.5 million and that the funding had been reviewed with the bond counsel. Mr. Szajda advises that we rely on the experts and that we should get this done.

Maureen Chlebek of Traffic Engineers McMahon and Associates said that it is possible to work the plans to reach a net loss of four spaces and make vast improvement in pedestrian safety.

John Varrell asked whether considering traffic and safety problems all along the downtown corridor we need to do just this. 

Town resident and Mass State Representative Carolyn Dykema asks Town Meeting to vote down the motion to indefinitely postpone Article 30.

Town resident Herb Brockert expressed concern that the plan is overdesigned, that it could be simpler. He asked whether there will be a chance to review future modifications to the plan. BOS Chair Jay Marsden said that there would be a plan review at 75% of design.

Police Chief John Moore said that for reasons of public safety he is opposed to the plan as put forward.

Lisa Brown, Hollis St. resident, said that it is time to take action, our downtown area is not safe.

Article 30 was approved. 158-28. Part 2, the appropriation of $1.5 million passed also.



To see if the Town will vote to transfer title to the property shown as Lot 366.2 of Block 7 on Assessors’ Map 7 located on Chamberlain Street, Holliston, Massachusetts which property is also shown as Lots 2A and 2B on a plan entitled, “Plan of Land in Holliston, Massachusetts,” dated September 30, 2014 prepared by Colonial Engineering, Inc. filed as Plan Number 1023 of 2014 in the Middlesex Registry of Deeds (the “Property”) in connection with constructing affordable, low/moderate income housing, the care, custody and control of which property was transferred from the Board of Selectmen to the Holliston Housing Trust by Town vote dated May 5, 2014, for the purpose of constructing low and moderate income housing; or take any action relative thereto. (Board of Selectmen)


COMMENTS:   The title insurance company requested the Town Meeting take a confirmatory vote of what was already approved and authorized at a previous Town Meeting.  This action would allow for the transfer of the land and for the title insurance company to issue insurance to the new owner.

Article 31 was approved.


FLAGG SCHOOL                ESTIMATED COST:  $620,000

To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate, transfer from available funds or to borrow a sum of money for the purpose of paying all costs associated with the environmental remediation and/or demolition of the Flagg School building and to convey to the Board of Selectmen from the School Committee the parcel and building until the demolition has been completed at which time the parcel will be returned to the School Committee; or to take any action relative thereto. (Board of Selectmen)


COMMENTS:  The building is no longer in use and needs to be demolished.  A hazardous materials inventory is currently underway to better understand the dimensions of the needed remediation.  This Article if approved, would allow the Town to fund the actual implementation of the remediation.  The cost of the demolition is unknown at this time and it is anticipated further Town Meeting action will be needed to address that step in the project.  Once the building is demolished by the Town, the land will be returned to the School Committee for future reuse.

Article 32 was approved.


To see if the Town will vote to authorize the Board of Selectmen  to enter into a Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) agreement for the solar power project at 128 Fischer Street; or take any action relative thereto. (Board of Assessors)


COMMENTS:  A solar PILOT Agreement allows the Town to know exactly what will be collected annually over the term of that Agreement.

Article 33 was approved.


To see if the Town will amend section 1 of Article 1 of the General By-Laws of the Town of Holliston and provide that Fall Town Meeting will be held on the 4th Monday in October, or take any action relative thereto. (Town Clerk)


COMMENTS:  This Article will prevent Fall Special Town Meeting from occurring on Halloween, which can happen periodically.

Article 34 was approved.



Comments (5)

Well said Karen Fung and in my opinion even more relevant as you speak as a professional engineer yourself. People identified early in this process that public speaking was not the forte of the representative of McMahon. This was brought to the Selectmen's attention at at least one public meeting. Despite that the same person returned for two more public appearances. The last one clearly not prepared with absolutely no adjustment to her presentation despite the change. The plan. A big thank you to Carolyn Dykema who rose to the occasion and explained to those present what was actually being proposed. Now we need to. One for the financing st the town election on May 24th

pAt Duffey | 2016-05-15 08:17:27

The merge issue is complicated in our minds, but one that can easily be changed, either during the 75% design review or 1 year (or even less) after construction. If this small portion of the design doesn't work, the "fix" will cost only a little paint and signage, as the rest of the project proceeds with or without this feature. Also, I'm not sure how many school buses will be traveling east through town center at this time... do the buses turn onto Central Street and Woodland, or do they continue through town center to take Elm Street to Woodland?

Vince Packard | 2016-05-13 06:19:33

Holliston is blooming.

Warren Chamberlain | 2016-05-12 16:55:57

I agree with the prior comments about the presentation being less than compelling given the Selectmen's stated desire for traffic lights. I remain convinced that having a merge situation in front of Fiske's during rush hour when school buses will be added to the regular morning congestion is a poor plan feature. I believe that independent traffic engineers should be consulted about the element of the design given that there was not a definitive answer provided to the question about how the eastbound turn lane from Washington onto Central will be dealt with during the morning travel lane period. The Selectmen knew that this was the motion they were putting forward and they, and McMahon, should have been prepared to address these concerns.

Alison Quinan | 2016-05-12 13:09:03

The citizens of Holliston are to be commended for considering and passing the Downtown Traffic article despite the poor presentation by the paid consultant and the Board of Selectmen. For the $1.5 million price tag, there should have been a better handout, not the old rejected and defeated design from 1 year ago. I believe even if they added some handwritten notes to the old one, photocopied it 200+ times, and distributed the mark-ups, there would have been a lot less confusion. A good picture is worth $1.5 million, a bad picture is 2 to 3 hours of wasted time (times 100 people minimum quorum = 200 to 300 manhours). Shame also on the paid consultant for not having some pride and consideration for their professional reputation and checking the handout. As their pay is dependent on the Town approving this article, they do have a stake in this and should have wanted the best presentation they could have organized in front of their client - the entire Town of Holliston.

karen fung | 2016-05-12 11:19:00