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Harvard’s Ricci, Ayer’s Maxant dispute Macnamara spin

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DEVENS — Speaking before the Devens Enterprise Commission last Thursday, Devens Recycling Center Principal Kurt Macnamara informed the commission that opposition lodged by the Harvard and Ayer boards of selectmen against his company’s quest for Saturday hours had been satisfied.

Macnamara made the statements before garnering a 9-1 vote by the commission to revisit its August 5-2 vote against granting 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. hours of operation for his Independence Drive trash plant.

The concerns of Devens residential neighbors to the plant spilled into the two boards of selectmen, where issues over truck traffic, noise and odor were aired to the two boards. Each board of selectmen penned letters citing their concerns with the proposal to expand the hours of operation for the trash facility into weekend hours.

The Devens Recycling Center (DRC) originally proposed a six-month trial period for Saturday hours, but was urged to seek a straight-out granting of Saturday hours by Devens Enterprise Commission (DEC) staff.

The idea was nixed by the commissioners in August, but the commission agreed to hear the request anew with their vote of last Thursday. New notices to neighbors and a complete reapplication will be required before the matter appears again before the commission.

The Harvard and Ayer Boards of Selectmen individually lobbied against the approval of Saturday hours. However, on Oct. 5, each board voted to soften its stance following visits from Macnamara.

Neither board voted to endorse the center’s operation. But each agreed to neutralize earlier positions to the point of welcoming a rehearing for the Saturday hours.

However, Macnamara told the commission that, as far as the Ayer selectmen were concerned, the company “satisfied” the selectmen and “we have their support.” After meeting with Harvard selectmen last week, Macnamara said he “got them to turn their letter around.”

No selectmen were present from Ayer, but Harvard Selectman Ron Ricci refuted Macnamara’s characterization. Ricci said the Harvard selectmen’s August letter in opposition to Saturday hours stands.

“I think Mc Macnamara made a mistake in alluding to our support,” Ricci said. “In no way did the Harvard Board of Selectmen rescind the letter we sent… nor did we take a position supporting the applicant one way or another.”

Rather, Ricci said the Harvard selectmen agreed to pull back to the extent that the company be allowed to be heard again on the issues. But Ricci also promised, “the Harvard Board of Selectmen will have other requests” if the reconsideration is granted.

Not true, says Maxant

In Ayer the day after the commission’s reconsideration vote, Ayer Selectman Frank Maxant was angered to hear that Macnamara represented to the commission that he had Ayer’s “support” for Saturday hours.

“As both Mr. Macnamara and Peter Lowitt of the DEC heard very clearly, unless they were suffering from narcolepsy, we emphatically did not endorse Saturday hours. We merely reduced our objections based on three criteria,” Maxant said.

Those three key criteria are odor, traffic and rodents. Maxant said just because the company presented information to Ayer selectmen on each point did not mean the selectmen are approving Saturday hours.

“It would definitely be a mischaracterization to say we were taking a position on Saturday hours,” said Maxant.

Macnamara did seek and receive a letter from the Ayer selectmen to present to the DEC later in the week.

Dated Oct. 6, the day after the Ayer selectmen met, the letter reads, the “Town of Ayer has no further questions or concerns regarding the Devens Recycling Center’s request for extended operating hours.”

While softer than Harvard’s stance, Maxant said the Ayer letter is not a letter of support for the company’s request. It’s a letter to neutralize the board’s concerns raised in a letter sent to the governor’s office and MassDevelopment dated Sept. 10.

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