The Town Council voted Tuesday night to take “no further major actions on any significant Town initiatives until a new permanent town manager and town planner is in place.”
Before the vote was taken three councilors, Mike Lucerto, Peter Christopher and James Lettiere recused themselves because of their connections to businesses in the Center Business District (where infrastructure will be done).
The final ‘yes’ vote for the moratorium were councilors Mike McDuffee, Nick LoConte, Heather Engman and Ron Vecchia. Voting against it were Councilors Phil Boncore and Linda Calla.
Boncore voted against the moratorium because the word “significant” was hard to determine, and he questioned who would determine what was significant and what was not.
Prior to voting for the moratorium the council held a public hearing with the Planning Board on a petition regarding Center Business District zoning. Bob Carroll of the Planning Board gave a thorough presentation on the Planning Board’s recommendation for Center Business District zoning. The discussion revolved around Center Business District property lines, parking, infrastructure, density and heights of buildings. Much of Carroll’s presentation was information also shared at 13 prior meetings the Planning Board held.
He noted that Winthrop is the ninth most dense community in the state, however, the eight communities above Winthrop are all cities.
Planning Board Chairman David Stasio said he wanted to see an accurate map of the Center Business District posted on the town’s website, and seek professional guidance for parking fines and fees. Currently, a developer can purchase parking for $2,000, a bone of contention with many.
“The town should take no further action on any significant initiatives until the Town Manager is in place,” Stasio said, of the Planning Board’s recommendation to the Town Council. “This should include the middle school site, the center business district and utilities projects.
The Planning Board also advised that the Council finds the money to hire a planner. At a prior meeting the council did approve a Town Planner position but did not identify a funding source at the time. For the past year the town has been using the contracted services of Mary McGann. Councilor Peter Christopher did submit a motion to hire a town planner with $75,000 from the Capital Stabilization fund. No action was taken.