An online petition opposing Tabor Drive as the site for the new town public works facility was given to the Board of Selectmen (BOS) Wednesday.
Ray Ingraham, who chairs the Republican Town Committee and is a member of the Representative Town Meeting (RTM), is spearheading the online petition drive along with Dennis Flanigan, the Republican clerk of the RTM. Both men represent voters in the Tabor district.
Ingraham did not make any comments about the petition during the meeting, nor did he address the board. Flanigan was not present.
Following the meeting, First Selectman Anthony “Unk” DaRos told the Eagle that he believes the email listing of names is not a true petition. “I’ll use it for information purposes, but I cannot accept a petition that has not been signed.”
The selectmen approved the town-owned Tabor site by a 2-1 vote last month, with James Cosgrove, the sole Republican on the board, voting against it. Click here to read that story. The issue will eventually go to the Board of Finance (BOF), but not at its meeting this Monday; and to the RTM after that.
Ingraham told reporters after last night’s meeting that he verified 172 names on the online petitions by cross-referencing the voter registration lists and using the “white pages” address listings on the internet. The information given to the BOS includes a list of names, streets, and voting districts.
“Neighbors …wanted to show there’s more support from people who don’t want it at Tabor,” Ingraham said.
He said residents are concerned about an increase in truck traffic, and about allowing an industrial use in a residential area.
DaRos responded to those concerns.
“This is probably the lease intrusive of all the activities that could be there,” DaRos told the Eagle. “It’s an opportunity to clean up that area. It could make that neighborhood one of the nicest in the town.”
He said the public works building will not be readily visible from residential areas. “It’s been carefully sited so it would be out of sight,” DaRos said. “The truck traffic will just be our snow plows and our maintenance people,” not large tractor trailers, he said. He has publicly stated there would be no truck traffic on Toole Drive.
The public works facility would be build on a 10-acre site at the 77-acre Tabor Drive property. The site was unanimously recommended by the Public Works Building Committee which spent two years looking at various locations.
The BOS held public hearings in February and March, and then asked the committee to look at three more possible sites. Click here to read that story. After the consulting firm evaluated those properties, the Tabor site once again ranked highest.
Ingraham said he went door-to-door over the weekend in the Tabor neighborhoods to assess interest in the project and to distribute protest signs. “It’s been very difficult to find someone who’s for it,” he claimed.
Second Selectman Andy Campbell said at last month’s meeting that he was talking with residents in the Tabor area and discovered there is “not unanimous opposition” to the project.
Ingraham said he and Flanigan held an organizational meeting Tuesday night to form an opposition group and that six residents attended. He said the group may schedule their own public meetings and are working to create a Web site. He said they plan to attend meetings of the BOF and the RTM whenever the project is discussed.
“I would hope that the elected officials [on the RTM] think long and hard about how it affects their area,” Ingraham said.
The online petition said: “We the undersigned do not agree with the Board of Selectman’s decision to go ahead with placement of a Public Works facility on the property known as Tabor.” It asked the BOS to reconsider their decision and it asked the BOF and the RTM to not approve any funding for the project at Tabor.
Ingraham also emailed the petition information to the media, and to members of the BOF and the RTM. The email said that the people on the list expressed their opposition via the petition, or by email or by placing signs in their yards.
He included pie-charts showing a break-down of opposition by district and by party. According to his charts, 66 percent of the 172 people were from the Fifth District (where Tabor is located); and 37 percent were unaffiliated, 30 percent were Republican, and 23 percent were Democrats.