By Mary Chasse, Neighb News Correspondent
At its meeting on Tuesday 9/28 the Acushnet Selectboard discussed concerns about speeding on Slocum Street, as well concerns about PJ Keating. The board also briefly discussed the progress with the Lake Street project, as well as a proposal about residential housing.
The board first met with town resident Eric James. He said he attended a Selectboard meeting a few weeks ago to discuss speeding cars on Slocum Street. He said he was just looking for an update on it.
Mr. James said the board told him the police were going to put up two speed meters, but only one has been put up and sometimes it is not on.
Selectboard member Kevin Gaspar said that the reason the meter was not on sometimes is because the battery has died or it needs a new battery. He said he was surprised the second speed meter had not been installed.
Chairperson David Desroches said the Selectboard allotted the money for the meters, but it is in the police department’s hands to order and put them up.
Selectboard member David Wojnar said that there are a lot of issues with supply and demand right now and it is possible the meter has been ordered, but has not come in yet.
Mr. Jones asked if the speed meter has at least been ordered.
Mr. Desroches said he did not know and they would have to ask the Police Chief.
Mr. Gaspar said he texted the Police Chief and asked. Later in the meeting the Police Chief responded and said the speed meters had been ordered already.
Mr. James and a few other residents also suggested a four way stop at Nye Avenue and Slocum Street.
The Selectboard agreed that they can forward the information to the Safety Committee and recommend a traffic study be done at the intersection.
The board voted unanimously to forward the information to the Safety Committee.
In another matter the board met with Deborah Polchlopek about neighborhood issues with PJ Keating. Ms. Polchlopek said the residents who live around PJ Keating have not been kept informed about what is going on.
She said she was there to ask the Selectboard to schedule a meeting with all the neighbors surrounding PJ Keating to give updates on what is happening. She said preferably an evening meeting or even a Saturday, that way a lot of residents can make it.
Ms. Polchlopek said the asphalt operations have started back up. She said she was awakened Monday at 5 a.m. to the sound of machinery and at 6 a.m. another day to the sound of trucks backing up right alongside her property.
Ms. Polchlopek said that some questions the neighbors have are who is responsible for enforcement and why is nothing being done; when will there be an air quality study; what about the land use license; fire suppressant plan and permits.
Mr. Desroches said he was open to the discussion, but they have to set aside a meeting time to discuss all the questions.
Town Council Jeffery Blake said that they will be able to address some of the neighbors concerns and update them on where everything is in the process. Mr. Blake said there are some things they cannot say because of court cases.
Mr. Wojnar said that there are things taking place and the Selectboard made PJ Keating shut down for 18 months. He said a lot has been done and the board is doing what they can on a local level.
Ms. Polchlopek said no enforcement has been done. She said that everyone knows the Selectboard is putting in great efforts and they all appreciate it, but PJ Keating is still not complying, and they are still operating.
Mr. Desroches said that PJ Keating is allowed to operate because the Mass DEP approved it and no other permits were required.
Mr. Desroches said that they should set up a meeting to discuss all the concerns and he really appreciated Ms. Polchlopek for her time.
In another matter the board discussed a special residential development bylaw proposal. Mr. Desroches said he had to recuse himself from the discussion and he left the room.
Mr. Wojnar said that it was a potential housing spot around the old Titleist property. He said it would fill a need in town, and Acushnet does not have any type of housing like what is being proposed. The town does not have the proper zoning in place for it, but Building Commissioner Jim Marot is addressing that issue.
Mr. Wojnar said he thought the housing project would be a good opportunity for the town.
Mr. Gaspar said the owner of the property proposed the idea in February and had a good, concrete proposal and a project model to develop the bylaw. He said it would be nice for a 55+ community and housing like that is something the town does not have.
Mr. Wojnar said Acushnet is an all or nothing town, that everyone in town owns a home. He said there is no opportunity to rent in town, and that creating rental housing would be a good change.
Mr. Wojnar also said he would like to see the project get off the ground and see Mr. Marot meet with the Planning Board and present the project to them.
Mr. Wojnar said he would like to see the issue at Town Meeting in January or in the Spring.
Mr. Gaspar agreed and said they should work with the Planning Board to move the project forward.
The board voted unanimously to have Mr. Marot present the project/ bylaw to the Planning Board.
The board also discussed the Lake Street Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). Mr. Wojnar said that the project is moving forward and that the city of New Bedford has agreed to the plans for Lake Street.
Mr. Wojnar said they are hoping to get it going by spring with walking paths, bathrooms, etc.
Mr. Gaspar asked if they would need to test the water in the area to make sure the town is not liable if the water is contaminated before this project begins.
Mr. Blake said New Bedford does not want to be liable for cleanup of the land used by the town. Mr. Blake said if New Bedford contaminates the water it is on them.
Mr. Wojnar said he would love to see the town take ownership of the land.
Mr. Blake said that there are too many challenges with the title of the property and many owners are unknown.
The board voted unanimously to approve the MOU, with a few revisions, and send it to New Bedford for approval.
The board also briefly discussed the Chapter 61A Right of First Refusal Ground Lease of Commercial use of Robinson Road Map 7 Lot 7.
Mr. Desroches said it is 7.5 acres near Country Whip.
Mr. Gaspar made a motion to forgo a right of first refusal. The motion passed unanimously.
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