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I was surprised by what was reported in the Public Spirit, Friday, Jan. 19. “Planners ask to be involved in Devens, etc.” so I also made a point of watching the debate on cable access. This was when a citizen came to them to ask them for their input on this very important issue.

Board Chairman Elizabeth Hughes (no relation) is quoted that she would not call public hearings to solicit input on this issue. She is also quoted as saying that MassDevelopment balked at providing any sort of zoning map or amendments for their proposal for the North Post. Member Jim Luchessi is quoted as saying they (the Planning Board) were stonewalled in the process and not allowed to have a say in what was going to happen.

All due respect, but what occurred was very different from what they stated. Going back over a year, the Ayer Planning Board was invited to participate in the North Post Master Planning process. This was separate from the overall Devens Disposition but clearly related, which included MassDevelopment, professional consultants to the disposition process, the town of Ayer, town of Shirley and the Devens Disposition Land Use Committee, on which I served. In spite of this invitation the board declined. Going back to the spring of last year, as input from this work was appearing in draft form (remember the proposed zoning and use map shown in the Sasaki proposals in meetings in Ayer and Shirley) the Shirley Planning Board formed a zoning review committee and did a great amount of excellent work. The zoning map and proposed bylaws for the Shirley portion of the proposed 2B scenario were a reflection of this input. The Ayer Planning Board continued to decline participation. Still desiring to have input from the Ayer Planning Board, representatives of MassDevelopment, the governance and the land use committees held two meetings in Ayer on North Post proposed zoning, to make it easier for the Ayer Planning Board to attend to get their input. As I recall, Ms. Hughes made it to one of them for about a half hour or so. Still trying to get input, this same consortium of representatives attended at least two Planning Board meetings, where they were delayed till the end and then given short review of the proposals for North Post zoning and land use.

All due respect, but what occurred was very different from what they stated. Going back over a year, the Ayer Planning Board was invited to participate in the North Post Master Planning process. This was separate from the overall Devens Disposition but clearly related, which included MassDevelopment, professional consultants to the disposition process, the town of Ayer, town of Shirley and the Devens Disposition Land Use Committee, on which I served. In spite of this invitation the board declined. Going back to the spring of last year, as input from this work was appearing in draft form (remember the proposed zoning and use map shown in the Sasaki proposals in meetings in Ayer and Shirley) the Shirley Planning Board formed a zoning review committee and did a great amount of excellent work. The zoning map and proposed bylaws for the Shirley portion of the proposed 2B scenario were a reflection of this input. The Ayer Planning Board continued to decline participation. Still desiring to have input from the Ayer Planning Board, representatives of MassDevelopment, the governance and the land use committees held two meetings in Ayer on North Post proposed zoning, to make it easier for the Ayer Planning Board to attend to get their input. As I recall, Ms. Hughes made it to one of them for about a half hour or so. Still trying to get input, this same consortium of representatives attended at least two Planning Board meetings, where they were delayed till the end and then given short review of the proposals for North Post zoning and land use.

Ultimately, the Ayer Planning Board held a meeting, 20 minutes before the Special Town Meeting, to vote on Devens. They voted against 2B without any public input or comment because no one even knew they were meeting. At the meeting reported in last week’s paper, their claim as to why they voted against 2B was they were left out of the process and not provided with any proposals for zoning maps; something any one who attended the Sasaki workshops in Ayer knows is not accurate.

With as important an issue before the town as the disposition process has been, to have the Planning Board stonewall giving any input is surprising — as surprising as their claims they were never asked in spite of many of us knowing that they were.

PATRICK HUGHES

Ayer