To the editor: Stockbridge voters should vote no on Article 23, which asks for the town to approve an additional $40,000 for part-time professional planning assistance to the Planning Board.
The Planning Board was awarded $40,000 last year. The consultants said, at a public meeting, that their work was done. And yet when asked by the Select Board to submit a list of further needs and priorities, the Planning Board did not. They did not submit a list that would necessitate spending another $40,000. Nor was the chairperson able to provide information about how much of the last $40,000 was spent. Why is an additional $40,000 a necessary expense? The consultants have made their recommendations. Now it is time for the Planning Board members, with input from the Select Board, town administrator, town counsel and the residents of the town, to make final recommendations.
This past year, there was a clear lack of transparency in the actions of the board. A three-member ad hoc committee controlled communication with the planners until the question of open meeting violations was raised. Then, only the vice chair was permitted to communicate with the consultants, expressing her opinions, not those of the board or town. There was an apparent lack of understanding among some of the board about the impact of the details written by the planners. Without public discussion, changes were made to details recommended by the consultants such as percentages that control density. Why spend money on consultants if you’re not going to accept their recommendations?
The town sent a clear message that it wants more transparency by reelecting Gary Pitney and electing Carl Sprague to serve on the Planning Board. The town should know where the members stand. Planning Board members should all be involved in open discussion before making decisions that have a major impact on the character of the town. If they come to a point where they feel the need for assistance, they can bring their request to the Select Board.
These are some of the reasons that Stockbridge residents should vote no on Article 23.
Anita Schwerner, Stockbridge
The writer is the chairperson of the Stockbridge Democratic Town Committee.