Mansfield Selectmen Approve Land Transfer to ConCom, Plan to Avoid Controversy in the Future

Selectmen voted 4-0 to transfer three parcels, one on Essex Street and two on Smith Road, to the Mansfield Conservation Commission.

The Mansfield Board of Selectmen approved 4-0 the transfer of parcels of land from the control of the town to the Mansfield Conservation Commission for placement in Article 97 protection.

Parcel 26 on Map 37 on Essex Street, parcel 1 on map 9 and parcel 24 on map 10 on Smith Road were the lands moved to the control of the commission.

Controversy on the issue occurred during town meeting in May, when a Mansfield resident (whose property is entirely encased by the Essex Street parcel) wanted to acquire some of the land to put an addition on his house.

The Mansfield town council moderator moved for the article to be nulled because the Conservation Commission’s article was placed before his article and he was not notified of the discrepancy and did not take any action. The latter article passed at Town Meeting.

Mansfield selectmen chair Oliver Kozlowski, who brought forth a discussion last week to try to split the land for use of the town as well as Article 97 protection, brought forth the idea of having a process for notifying and reviewing articles in such a fashion so that a problem like as to what happened at Town Meeting would not again occur.

“We basically do this already, this formalizes the process,” town manager William Ross said. “It brings it forward in a single document, which kind of makes sense. It does make some sense to have this information available at town meeting… so that people can see exactly why it’s being put into the conservation.”

The procedure, Kozlowski said, would be reviewed by all appropriate boards, planning, selectmen, etc., and also sent to involved parties in the article (like any abutters or citizen petitions on the subject).

“The point is that everybody who should be asked get in their take on the options of land usage,” he said.

Selectmen George Dentino said that he felt that if more people stayed during town meeting, the issue would’ve had a fairer hearing.

“I’m very very disappointed in the number of people who complain and didn’t show up at town meeting,” he said. “I’m getting tired of seeing things brought forth and passed, whether right or wrong, and 40 or 50 people decide what’s good for 24,000 [the population of the town]. Shame on the 14,000 (registered Mansfield voters) that didn’t show up or left. They suffer from their own ills.”

Bob Thomas September 20, 2012 at 02:29 PM
Perhaps the answer is to switch to a representative town meeting where voters would run for office and the number of offices would be limited to 240 or 160 members who would be accountable to the general population. Be sure to add language that would prevent elected representative town employees and teachers from voting on their own contracts and raises. As an aside, does the town really have a hall big enough to hold 14,000 voters? That would seem to invite chaos at the very least.


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