GROTON -- After discussing the matter with the police chief and DPW director, selectmen voted to approve a plan by a local businessman to trim back vegetation on town property located along Route 119.
At issue was a request by PCM Realty Trust for a license with the town to conduct landscape improvements across the street from landowner Peter Myette's 120 Boston Road property.
According to company attorney Robert Anctil, the improvements, including clearing away of brush and low-hanging tree branches, were needed to improve the sightlines for vehicles pulling out of Myette's property.
The work was requested by the state's Department of Transportation, said Myette representative John Amaral.
Amaral said that when proposed curb cuts from Myette's property were presented to DOT, concerns were raised about the ability of exiting vehicles to see oncoming traffic further up the road.
"There are no trees being cut down," Amaral told selectmen in an attempt to clear up any misunderstandings about the work.
Amaral explained that work would only involve clearing brush and low-hanging tree branches no higher than six feet from the ground.
"We're not opening up a huge slot of land," assured Amaral.
Amaral was followed by traffic engineer Ken Cram, who made the same pledge. "The work is to make sure we have adequate sightlines in the future," Cram said.
The improvements are needed as part of Myette's plan to redevelop his 3-acre property and construct a pair of two-story buildings intended for medical offices.
One building will have a footprint of 8,305 square feet while the other will have 2,400 square feet. The total project will come to 21,410 square feet of floor space.
A vote at town meeting approved Myette's concept plan, allowing him to proceed with the project.
For his part, DPW director Tom Delaney told selectmen that he had no problem with the work, most of which would take place on land controlled by the state and very little actually on that controlled by the town.
"The stuff they're cutting is not going to hurt anything," concluded Delaney.
Chief of police Donald Palma also had no issues with the proposed work.
Addressing a concern raised in a previous meeting, Palma said his department had only a single report of a stray golfball hitting the road from the nearby Country Club in all the years he has been chief.
With little to object to, selectmen voted to approve a license agreement with Myette. It allows him to proceed with the trimming work but under the condition that cutting be no higher than six feet from the ground, that the cutting plan be approved by the Planning Board and that the applicant consider erecting, if necessary, a net across the street to prevent golf balls from reaching the street.
Also at their meeting of July 29, selectmen voted to adopt an amendment to their policy regarding the release of executive session minutes.
The change was reviewed and approved by the town's legal counsel and involved separating regular meeting minutes from those of closed session meetings.
The amendment acknowledges the state's standard for exemptions from making public records kept during executive session meetings involving personal information of government employees and offers language following the same guidelines.
The issue of making executive session minutes public came to the fore when the town's labor unions learned of comments made by board member Jack Petropoulos referring to their content as "dirty laundry."
Union members took umbrage at the suggestion and threatened to file a formal grievance with the state's attorney general's office.
Acknowledging the union members' concerns, selectmen decided that the board should draft a new policy dealing with the release of executive session minutes, the aim being to prevent release of sensitive information barring existing law to the contrary.
Having presented wording of the policy change to Town Hall union member Michelle Collette, town manager Mark Haddad reported that employees were satisfied with the wording.