The Drew Gardens Task Force will be busy this summer, but it remains to be seen what exactly they’ll be doing.
On Tuesday, the Board of Selectmen delayed action on approving a revised purview for the Drew Gardens Task Force as the Task Force prepares to investigate a new restaurant proposal at the former Drew Gardens property.
The Task Force met last Thursday to examine details of the proposed purview, but concerns were voiced over the fact that two slots on the Task Force reserved for abutters had not yet been filled.
Applications for the abutter positions are still being taken; the positions were created after the Board of Selectmen discovered that abutters to the property were not being represented on the Task Force up to this point.
Things became heated, with Boston Road resident Bob Krankiewicz confronting the Selectmen over the timing of the meeting.
Board of Selectmen Chairman Kelly Ross indicated that Selectman and Task Force Member Andrea Peraner-Sweet discovered that Thursday was the best date for members of the Task Force to meet. He also stated that Westford Director of Land Use Planning Chris Kluchman had posted a meeting notice by Tuesday.
Krankiewicz was not alone. Former Selectman and Boston Road resident Bob Jefferies voiced frustration over the fact that only the southern third of the land was within the purview.
Although that is the portion of the land that will require an amendment to the property’s agricultural preservation restriction, or APR, Jefferies echoed concerns he voiced at earlier meetings about the impact to the central portion of the property. There, he said, would bear the brunt of stormwater runoff from the proposed restaurant.
Jefferies also believed the project went against state zoning laws and that any amendment to the APR would need to wait two years and then wait for an annual town meeting per the Selectmen’s own policies.
On the board itself, Selectman Don Siriani urged that slow down when it came to legal questions related to the APR itself. In the Selectmen’s last meeting, Siriani had requested additional insight from the town’s legal counsel. Some of those legal opinions were released on Monday, although it appeared during that more information would be provided in the near future.
Maureen George of Porter Way agreed with Siriani’s assessment that the process be given more time, also giving a brief presentation alleging that new property owner Ebi Masalehdan had not fulfilled promises to clean the property following its purchase.
This point led an impromptu dispute between Krankiewicz and Selectman Mark Kost, with Kost stating the state of the property had improved over the past several weeks and that Masalehdan’s promise was open ended.
Despite the calls for a slow down, Town Manager Jodi Ross reminded the board that the warrant for October’s Special Town Meeting would be opened later this month and time was of the essence if any APR amendment proposal could be examined in time to be brought before Special Town Meeting voters.
The Selectmen are expected to revisit the issue of the property during their June 28 meeting, with Kluchman indicating that the Task Force is currently expected to meet weekly throughout the summer.
CORRECTION: Bob Waskiewicz is a member of the Task Force, not Krankiewicz. We apologize for the error.