By Beth David, Editor
In a bit of a marathon meeting on Boston Marathon week, the Fairhaven Select Board finalized the Annual Town Meeting warrant, set the date for the Proposition 2 2/2 override vote, and held three public hearings, at its meeting on 4/18/23.
The board voted to hold a special election on Monday, June 5, for voters to decide on a $450,000 override of Proposition 2 1/2. The town faces a budget shortfall and town officials are advocating for an override of Prop 2 1/2, which limits the amount of property taxes the town can raise each year. Town Meeting must also vote for the override.
In the only public hearing not continued, the board voted to restrict parking along Elm Street to one side of the road from Main Street heading west to the Acushnet River.
Lt. David Sobral told the board that the road is too narrow for emergency vehicles to get by if there is parking on both sides. He said the matter was brought to his attention by Eric Dawicki, of Northeast Maritime Institute which owns Slocum Cove Marina at the bottom of the street.
Lt. Sobral said if there is an emergency at the marina requiring one of the larger emergency vehicles, it will not be able to make the turn if vehicles are parked on both sides.
Highway Superintendent Joshua Crabb wrote in his report that the road does not even meet the requirements for parking on one side of the street. He added, however, that it is typical for the neighborhood and that restricting parking to one side would be warranted.
The Fire Department also weighed in, writing that two-sided parking impedes access to the marina.
Resident Mario Carreiro asked if the board could restrict parking to residents only. He said making it one side of the street would make it even worse for residents, as cars already park very close to the edge of the driveway.
Resident Eleanor Chew agreed, saying it was people using the marina causing the parking problems.
“We love the boats, we love the marina,” said Anne Carreiro, but there will be a problem if parking is restricted and signs are not added.
The board said that making an area resident parking only requires a longer process.
“We try to limit that,” said Lt. Sobral, noting other neighborhoods will request it. He said the point of the hearing that night, and the reason the various departments agreed with one-sided parking was for safety reasons.
Lt. Sobral said they try to keep as much parking as possible, especially in North Fairhaven.
He noted that vehicles should not be parked within five feet of the edge of a driveway.
“That area is a very tight area,” he said.
Lt. Sobral said he was willing to speak with the marina owner about his customers using the street.
Mr. Carreiro said they have arguments all summer because of marina users parking too close to the driveway.
“We just want to make it a workable thing for all of us,” he said.
Select Board member Keith Silvia suggested they ask the Board of Public Works to spray some yellow pain on the curbs to mark legal spots.
Ms. Chew noted that the marina has direct access to Main Street on the other side, by a private road.
Lt. Sobral said there is a fence at that entrance and it is only open seasonally. It is not a “true public way.”
The board voted unanimously to restrict parking to the north side of the street.
The board also held a public hearing to discontinue Shirley Street, which is behind A&A Auto, which is a used car dealer and repair shop. The business expanded by buying an adjacent piece of property. Shirley Street runs between the two parcels and comes to a dead end there because the state shut off its access to Route 6 decades ago.
“It’s a road to nowhere,” said David Davignon, the engineer presenting the plans. He said the Fairhaven Planning Board had made the suggestion to discontinue the road.
The board discussed what it means to discontinue the road, including if they can put restrictions on it afterwards.
Typically, explained Mr. Davignon, when a road is discontinued, each abutter takes have the road, from the center line to their respective properties. In this case, the same owner abuts both sides, so the property would become part of A&A.
Rouba Sarkis, who owns A&A with her husband Alex, said they were advised by the Planning Board to ask for the discontinuance.
Mr. Davignon noted that they were “urged” to do it.
Resident Al Oullette, who acknowledge a long history of complaining against A&A said they would be the only ones to benefit from it. He said the company is still parking vehicles on the street.
“You can’t talk to these people,” said Mr. Oulette. “They’re abusing the neighborhood.”
Resident Michell Costen said she felt that the town does not listen to long time residents.
A lot of people who “made Fairhaven what it is are not being considered,” she said.
Select Board member Stasia Powers said she was concerned that the road would get blocked.
Ms. Sarkis said that was their intention, and it would not be a public road anymore. She added that she felt they were being attached for something they were advised to do by the town.
Select Board member Bob Espindola said it he liked it when they listened to other boards, but it also makes sense to listen to Mr. Oullette. He suggested they learn more about (1) ownership, (2) public safety/ access of emergency vehicles, and (3) overflow on the street.
The fire chief submitted a letter saying he had no problem with the discontinuance. Select Board member Keith Silvia said he spoke with the PB chair, and she said the whole board was in favor of the move.
Town Planner Paul Foley submitted a letter saying that the company was not fully in compliance with the conditions of the special permit.
Mr. Davignon addressed those concerns, saying the company was waiting on contractors for repairs to the building, and other issues were being addressed.
Owner Alex Sarkis said that Mr. Oulette can no longer see the truck form his house. Mr. Sarkis said he has the right to put his truck anywhere on his property. He said they constructed a fence, and he puts his personal car behind the fence.
In the end the board voted to continue the public hearing to get more information.
The board also continued a pole hearing for Eversource to place two poles and create 10 new manholes on Causeway Road and Alder Street on West Island.
Abutter Dan Wood joined the meeting by Zoom to say the location of one of the poles would be halfway down the property line, right in the middle of their frontage.
He said it would “affect our use and enjoyment of our property.”
He said there are already poles there and he asked if they could put the new poles in the same place.
Jessica Elder, speaking for Eversource, said the company needed to add poles to take the weight off some of the ones already there.
The board continued the hearing until the May 1 meeting. Ms. Elder said she will contact the engineers to ask about alternative locations.
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