By Beth David, Editor
With two of three appointments cancelled, the Fairhaven Selectboard had an early night on Monday, 10/3. A hearing for Dussault Auto Sales was continued, and a meeting with Adam Whynot was also continued.
The Bell Committee and the Rogers-Oxford Committee members were on hand, though, to discuss the plans for replacing the cupola of the Oxford School. When the Paul Revere bell was removed from the building last October, the cupola also had to be removed. Unfortunately, the cupola got damaged.
The Committee members had always hoped to have the cupola replaced, said Bell Committee chairperson Doug Brady. He and Rogers-Oxford chairperson Nils Isaaksen said members of both committees were excited to get the cupola back in place and restore the skyline.
Mr. Isaaksen said he thinks about it every time he drives by and sees the spot where the cupola used to be.
Keith Silvia, a local contractor, created the plans for rebuilding the cupola, which has been in storage since being removed.
“I believe we’re in good hands,” said Mr. Isaaksen.
The next step is to get the plans to the Stratford Group, which is slated to buy the building and convert it to senior housing. They have agreed to allow the town to return the cupola, but they need to approve the plan.
The Bell Committee has enlisted the help of the same volunteers who removed the bell free of charge, including Mr. Silvia and A#1 Crane Company.
“It has always been our goal…to get the cupola back up,” said Mr. Brady.
John Medeiros, from the North Fairhaven Improvement Association, said the NFIA would like to see a bell in the cupola. If they can find an appropriate bell to go in the spot, it will be installed with the cupola. If they cannot find one in time, then the cupola will go up without a bell.
The famed Revere Bell will remain in the possession of the town, and not put on the building.
The Bell Committee is looking for an appropriate place to display the Revere Bell, where it will be available to the public, but secure from theft.
Mr. Brady said they are not sure if the weather vane can be replaced with the cupola. He said they are still working on it.
During the discussion about the bell, Town Administrator Mark Rees told the board that there has been some difficulty locating the deed for the Oxford School building. He said the town hired an expert to find it.
In another matter, Mr. Rees told the board that Moody’s, the bond credit rating service, seemed poised to upgrade the town’s rating. He said the town had a “negative outlook” last time, but after a phone conference, he felt the new information would change the rating to “positive.”
The board approved a site plan for Fairhaven Gas, 134 Huttleston Ave., reducing the number of cars allowed on the lot to 17, from 33.
Last year, the town required all new and used car lots in town to have engineered site plans which clearly showed where cars are parked. The aim was to make sure car lots and service stations were not using the street to accommodate cars for sale or employee spots. The move came after a series of complaints by neighbors and competitors against several service stations in town.
Fairhaven Gas will now be allowed five used car spaces, three employee spaces, and nine repair/customer spaces, for a total of 17.
In a related matter, Louie Baptista of RRR Auto, 372 Huttleston Ave., appeared before the board to plead his case for not creating a new plan by an engineer.
Mr. Baptista argued that he had a valid, engineer-stamped plan from when he got his special permit. That plan shows where his 92 cars can be parked, without using Copeland Street, a paper street that runs through his property. The special permit, however, clearly allows him to use Copeland Street. In the event that Copeland Street is developed, he will not be allowed to use it, as laid out in the conditions of his special permit.
Selectboard Chairperson Charles Murphy said the whole purpose of the board’s requirement was to get engineering plans that show where cars are actually parked, not where they could be parked. The point, he said was to get a “realistic, reflective plan,” and everyone had to do it.
Selectboard member Bob Espindola said the point was to make it easier for the building inspector to see if a business was in compliance.
Both Mr. Baptista and Town Planner and Economic Development Director Bill Roth voiced concerns that if the new plan were created, then RRR would be in violation of the special permit, and Mr. Baptista would get slapped with a violation.
“I’m concerned that if I draw up new plans…I’m going to lose cars,” said Mr. Baptista.
If the plan shows the cars on Copeland Street, it means he might be required to use it, as opposed to now, where he can use it if he wants to, and that would violate the special permit.
“I don’t understand why I have to do it,” said Mr. Baptista. “I don’t want to give it up.”
He also said it was “no secret” that he has had an ongoing “feud” with building inspector Wayne Fostin.
“I’m worried that Mr. Fostin is going to come on my property, and say I can’t park there,” said Mr. Baptista. “Now he can’t because it’s a special permit.”
Mr. Rees interjected, saying that it would be his role to mediate any conflicts between the two.
Mr. Baptista reiterated his point that he was the only one of the used car lots to pay for a real engineering plan, and he should not have to pay for another one.
“I’m the only one who spent that much money,” said Mr. Baptista.
Mr. Espindola said they “wouldn’t be here today,” if not for the issue of people “pointing fingers” at each other over violations.
In the end, the board required Mr. Baptista to get the new plans created, with a clear reference to the Special Permit provisions.
He will be allowed to use Copeland Street, but will not be required to do so. In the event that Copeland Street is developed, he will have to move his cars off that street.
In other business, the board:
• Approved a restricted music license for the Nook Café at 58 Washington St., for weekdays only.
• Approved use of the town hall auditorium for Beth Becotte to hold a birthday party on 10/9; but did not approve the beer and wine license, pending receipt of more information.
• Appointed Cody Thibault to the Bell Committee, and Pam Kuechler to the Library Board of Trustees.
Selectboard member Daniel Freitas did not attend the meeting because he was sick, according to Mr. Rees.
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