Foxborough Officials Move Forward On Increasing Fees
Overdue Increase Meant To Contain Costs For Department
The second Foxborough Planning Board meeting of the New Year opened at 7:00 PM last Thursday evening with a lively discussion of proposed increases of their department fees. Town Planner, Marc Resnick, led off the hearing with all five members of the Planning Board present by noting increases for most application and inspection fees in addition to proposed new fees.
Resnick commented that “fees paid should be comparable to services provided” and that “most fees have not been increased in at least seven years.”
While Planning Board member Gordon Greene generally approved of the measure he voiced concern for residents coming before the Board looking to add an extra bedroom and finding the permit fee a little too steep.
“We don’t want to hurt the people we serve, the taxpayers of Foxborough,” said Greene with Board member William Grieder nodding in assent.
Other Board members were concerned that this move would be perceived as a revenue stream for the town as funds collected by the department accrue to the general fund and are not set aside in a special enterprise account.
Member Ronald Bresse noted that the increase in fees would be put in place to essentially cover the costs of services provided by the Town Planner and Planning Board department administrative staff.
Statistics compiled by Resnick showed that other towns such as Sharon, Plainville, Walpole, Wrentham and Norwood charged more for their services. “Foxborough tends to be on the ‘soft side’ when it comes to what it will charge residents,” said Planning Board Chairman Kevin Weinfeld.
Not all Board members agreed that the fee increases were enough. Board member Scott Barbato would like to see the cost of a frontage waiver tripled.
“The Planning Board has the full discretion to grant applicants something of great value and the fee structure should reflect that value,” said Barbato.
Increases on the application and inspection fees will now be forwarded to Town Manager, Kevin Paicos, for his review. Public hearings will be posted in the near future for public comment before increases are put in place.
In other Board business Thursday evening, the members voted to continue the hearing after a presentation by William Buckley, engineer for Bay Colony Group, Inc. representing John and Kristine Rietz for a 4 home subdivision “Christensen Estates” at 67 North High Street. Approval was granted under the Scenic Road By-Law for the removal of trees on the roadway and improvements to an existing stone wall surrounding the property.
Not all Board members agreed that the granting of the approval for changes to the site was necessary under the Scenic Road By-Law. Member Gordon Greene felt that since no maintenance or reconstruction work was being proposed for North High Street the changes did not reach the threshold necessary for the Board to grant permission for work to go forward. All Board members seem to feel that though that might not be the case there was a feeling that “if it gave abutters a comfort level that the work being done would not change the look and feel of the scenic vista of the neighborhood” then the special permit became a moot point. Abutter John Gray from Foxborough Country Club agreed with the changes noting that the developer has come up with “great solutions” to “not change the character of the neighborhood and keep it wooded.”
The Lamson Road Water Treatment Facility got the initial nod to proceed in the application process for a special permit after abutters concerns were addressed by Foxborough Water and Sewer Department head, Leo Potter, and engineers developing the 62 acre parcel. Abutters Thomas and Barbara Kurth and their neighbor, Thomas Doucette, were concerned that their days of privacy would be coming to an end with the construction of a paved emergency road off their Cobb Lane residences. Member William Grieder noted that “unfortunately, the vista you have belongs to someone else” but that the Board would do everything possible to mitigate the loss of trees and landscaping between their property and the proposed construction of the water treatment facility. Gates at both ends of the roadway are part of the plans to prevent access to the site by non-town personnel.
Workout World received a site plan waiver request for 12 Commercial Street with Board members reading a letter from the Zoning Board of Appeals that if the applicant was to come before the Board for any further work to be done, a special permit would be needed to avoid non-conforming usage of the property.
The Commons at Foxborough received a one year extension of their special permit with all Board members in agreement that as a condition of the extension the applicant be required to re-notify abutters.
The final agenda item of the evening proved to be the most contentious.
Attorney Mark Shelmerdine representing Intoccia Properties and their Highlawn Farm development sparred with Board members as to whether or not they had met their legal obligation to set a time deadline for necessary work to be done at the property site.