HARVARD — During the public comment period of Tuesday night’s selectmen meeting, a resident brought a citizen’s petition to the board, calling for a warrant article to change town zoning laws.
Stu Sklar said he’s concerned with the town’s inability to get things done lately, especially when it comes to the planned renovation of Town Hall, which Town Meeting approved and voters agreed to fund.
Whether it’s people or process, in his view, something or someone keeps trying to thwart the project, Sklar said. For example, he noted the recent public hearing held by the Zoning Board of Appeals. The hearing was sparsely attended, but Sklar was there. “I was particularly disturbed by some of the ZBA comments,” he said.
So he comes now with the citizen’s petition to change town zoning bylaws to favor municipal building projects, exempting them from requirements that call for variances or special permits.
The petition was signed by 15 registered voters whose signatures have been verified by the town clerk, Sklar said.
It reads: “Any lawful nonconforming existing structure that is either owned or occupied by an Institutional use (as defined in section 125-16) and located on land that is within 2,500 feet of the Town Center intersection of Routes 110 and 111 may be repaired, moved, enlarged or altered without requiring any zoning relief and shall be exempted from any and all provisions of the Protective bylaws.”
As stated on the petition, citizens who signed it are requesting that the selectmen place the article on the warrant for the 2013 Annual Town Meeting, set for April 4.
The proposed article was already on the draft warrant the board reviewed later, with sponsorship attributed to the citizen’s petition.
“We’d like it even better if you (selectmen) did this on your own,” Sklar said.
If voters say yes, the article as written would be added as a new paragraph to Section 125-3 A of the Harvard zoning codes.
The exemption would eliminate the need for a variance or special permit to renovate Town Hall or any other municipal building, Sklar said, adding that it’s a fairly standard practice in other communities.