DEVENS — The Devens Committee (DC) plans to ask Joint Boards of Selectmen (JBOS) Chairman Leonard “Chip” Guercio, of Shirley, to invite MassDevelopment to the board’s Jan. 31 meeting.
The move was made this week for several reasons.
DC Chairman Thomas Kinch has information from Shirley town administrator Kyle Keady that state Sen. Pamela Resor and Rep. James Eldridge will be present.
Also, Devens housing — in particular, the governor’s desire to add 400 houses to the 282 authorized in the ruling Chapter 498 released last October — is expected to be on the agenda.
The JBOS has been relatively inactive since the October presentation on housing, said member Michael Boucher.
MassDevelopment will eventually be present at the housing discussion table anyway, he said.
The bottom line is that committee members expect the Jan. 31 JBOS meeting could be productive. They said they prefer to have everyone at the same table — if MassDevelopment’s participation doesn’t prove to be a distraction.
DC’s left the decision to do the inviting in Guercio’s hands. DC is represented on the JBOS, but like with any municipal board member, suggestions should go through the chairman.
The Devens Committee is solidly behind bringing in 400 more houses, for a total of 682. To do so requires a legislatively-approved change to state law — Chapter 498. There are still 176 authorized but unbuilt houses under that law.
Kinch noted there’s been no “movement” in Harvard since the new housing number was presented last October.
Harvard JBOS representatives have repeatedly said conflicting financial projections for a new build prevent a decision, said Kinch. Harvard selectmen have indicated they have formed a study committee, he said, and with MassDevelopment present, “we can talk right there” at the JBOS table.
“The problem is there has been no communication between MassDevelopment and Harvard,” he said.
DC member Phillip Crosby expressed concerns about an unspecified potential “downside” to “pushing” that MassDevelopment be at the JBOS meeting.
“Is it going to change the dynamics of Harvard and Ayer (the two towns that voted disposition down a year ago)?” asked Crosby.
Kinch agreed there is concern about a distraction with MassDevelopment’s presence, and the committee voted to let Guercio make the decision.
However, “it’s safe to say the last year has been one of frustration for Devens,” said Kinch. “Harvard and Ayer’s votes (against disposition Scenario 2B) were disappointing. The lack of JBOS activity has been disappointing.”