Dear Candidate for Town Office,
Each year Citizens for Lexington Conservation poses questions pertaining to issues that will be coming before Town Meeting to all candidates for Town Office, collects the responses, and publishes them in our February newsletter prior to Town elections. This year’s question is focused on the pace of residential development in our community. The last couple years have seen considerable and growing concern expressed about the scale and pace of residential development occurring in Lexington, and the deleterious effects it has had on our natural resources, environment, and infrastructure. Residents have expressed concerns about the loss of open space, destruction of mature trees and overall reduction of the Town’s tree canopy, and dramatic changes to the character of local neighborhoods. Additionally this past year there has been a significant increase in the blasting of ledges and rock formations, which has raised concerns about soil stability and storm water runoff.
Town Meeting 2016 passed several zoning bylaws that addressed some of the issues caused by the replacement of modest sized houses on small sized lots by “McMansions.” This year, in response to residents’ ongoing concerns, the Planning Board will propose additional zoning changes that address some of the problems raised by the pace and extent of development. Details on most of these proposed changes will not be ready for consideration and review until past our deadline for sending out this year’s question for candidates and collecting your responses. Therefore, rather than focusing on specific warrant articles that will come before Town Meeting, our question this year is of a more general nature with the goal of broadening the discussion of this issue within our community.
The tool kit available to municipalities to govern residential development can be divided into two broad categories, i.e., municipal acquisition of larger parcels to limit their development, and amendments to the Town’s Zoning By-Laws governing the development of private property.
Municipal acquisition can be of two basic types. Developable parcels can be acquired outright, or through acquisition or purchase of a Conservation Restriction limiting or preventing future development of a given parcel. A portion of Lexington’s annual CPA funds have been used in the past for such acquisitions and can continue to be tapped in future years.
Amendments to the Town’s Zoning By-Laws can affect a wide variety of conditions including:
The first two of the above examples were the subject of warrant articles approved at last year’s Town Meeting. The remaining examples will be the subject of articles that will come before this year’s Town Meeting. There will be no articles proposing acquisition of open space coming before Town Meeting this year.
The question that CLC is asking this year’s candidates is as follows:
Are you in favor of continuing to add to the Town’s tool kit to limit or otherwise control the pace of residential development in our community? If so, please indicate which types of measures you feel the Town should take to add to the controls already in place. Please also include a brief statement as to why you feel the position you are taking is important for the future development of our community.
The Planning Board will be holding a series of public hearings on these proposed amendments prior to the start of Town Meeting to continue to gather community input as the Board refines each proposed article. Please consult the Planning Board’s web page on the Town web site to keep abreast of the latest schedule and current information on each of the amendments to be submitted to Town Meeting.
Please respond to the question using no more than one half page. E-mail replies are preferred, but typewritten and even legible handwritten ones will be accepted. Please put your name, precinct number, telephone number, email address and the position you are seeking at the top of your statement. A copy of the topic you are addressing will be printed in the newsletter, so you do not need to repeat it in your response.
Please send your response to:
21 Captain Parker Arms, Apt 11
Lexington, MA 02421-7042
Responses must be received by no later than February 6.
Citizens for Lexington Conservation annually invites candidates for public office in the Town of Lexington to address a topic related to conservation and the environment that is of concern to our members. Candidates' responses will be included in our annual Candidates' Forum newsletter that will be published during February. This issue of our newsletter will be mailed to candidates and over 300 other Lexington families. It will also be available at the Cary Memorial Library .
The text of the question for 2012 is as follows:
The Town is currently in negotiations for the purchase of the Wright Farm property, which is located on Grove Street, on the Bedford/Lexington border. As of this writing, two Warrant articles proposing the purchase of this property have been submitted for consideration at this year’s Town Meeting, Articles 9 and 10: Land Purchase--Off of Grove Street (both titled the same).
Specific details regarding the property and a possible purchase price are not presently available but it would appear from the assessors’ description of the property that the open space portion, consisting of pasture and woodland, totals approximately 14 acres. The property, which also includes a house and barn, is adjacent to Burlington's landlocked forest, a parcel of approximately 250 acres of woodland that is owned by the town of Burlington and features an extensive network of trails that are popular with both hikers and mountain bikers.
Assuming the property is purchased by the Town, what use(s) would you suggest for this property based on Town needs and what you know of the features of the property and its location?
Here are the candidates' answers, in the February newsletter.
(You can find the Warrant Articles here.)