By Don Eriksson
DEVENS — Following the defeat of one proposed version of a town of Devens, more than half the registered voters at Devens have signed a locally-generated petition asking the Legislature to incorporate it as its own town.
The petition, written by Walnut Street residents Robert Eisengrein and Betty Barbadoro, has nothing to do with the “Scenario 2B” approach that was killed by Harvard and Ayer voters at simultaneous town meetings in October. It’s simply asking that Devens become a town.
Unveiled Saturday, Jan. 13, at the community center, the petition is also separate from another generated by the Devens Committee and currently before the Legislature that asks it to amend Section 23 of Chapter 498 to include Devens residents in the governmental decision-making process.
This petition comes on the heels of the Devens Committee being accepted as a fourth member of the re-formed Joint Boards of Selectmen by selectmen in the three host towns.
Eighty-five registered Devens voters signed the petition. It asks for enactment by the “Senate and House of Representatives, in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same.” The terms are as follows:
* The recent split town votes that defeated Scenario 2B make reaching a local disposition resolution virtually impossible, and the Legislature should intervene to create a fair and equitable decision.
* Uncertainty following the negative Scenario 2B vote jeopardizes future development in accordance with MassDevelopment’s plans including the Smart Growth future housing growth.
* A legislative decision should be based on protecting and promoting the state’s huge interest in developing Devens. For industry, it would remove the uncertainty of not knowing which governmental entity will have future jurisdiction.
* In accordance with the Shirley town meeting vote, the town of Shirley should receive jurisdiction over the portion of the Devens Regional Enterprise Zone (DREZ) assigned to it in Scenario 2B documentation.
All other DREZ property, including Core Devens, shall be incorporated by the name of Devens and invested with all the powers, privileges and rights other towns are given by the Massachusetts Constitution.
* The method and timing of incorporation could be described by a modification of language in the original Devens Disposition Executive Board (DDEB) agreement based on studies of the financial models developed by the DDEB and MassDevelopment.
* Attributes of incorporation should include all details in the original DDEB agreement such as increasing the number of houses to be built, continuing financial support for Devens until it’s sustainable and creating an elementary school.
* The investments by residents in the development process should be recognized and protected through the maintenance of the present Devens community created over the past five years.
* Future development of the remainder of the DREZ should become a secondary priority of MassDevelopment until Core Devens is completely developed. MassDevelopment should outline a plan for DREZ based on common sense and available state funding.
* These actions take effect upon the passage of this petition.