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Debate over proposed minor subdivision grows heated

By Daniel Dunkle | Apr 08, 2021

Hope — “I was a bit miffed,” Planning Board Chair Langley Willauer said during an April 7 meeting, starting what became a heated exchange between him and fellow board member Blaine Richardson.

Willauer was “miffed” he said to discover there was a paved road on the property Rick Catalano had proposed subdividing near Lermond Pond.

Catalano has been before the board previously for preliminary meetings and a public hearing concerning his proposal to sell a 2-acre parcel along Hackleburnham Road. This would mean dividing it from the 30 acres he owns there, and since he had previously sold a portion of the original property, this has become defined as a minor subdivision.

“We’re not here to be combative with an applicant,” Richardson said. “It’s a driveway, not a road.”

Catalano said the driveway had been there since 1957 and that he did not understand why it was being brought up.

Richardson argued Catalano’s drawing submitted had everything on it required by the ordinance, though Willauer had requested a more detailed survey.

“That’s not how it works,” Willauer said in response to Richardson.

“This is how it works,” Richardson said. “It is exactly how it works. You want to make it an issue to stop that piece of property. I wish you’d back off a little.” Richardson said he had a hand in creating the rules for planning boards from Tom Ford, that Willauer had quoted from. He continued,” You’re embarrassing me here. This is not how Hope should be doing our business.”

Board member Molly Luce made a motion to accept Catalano’s proposal, and the board voted 6-1, with Willauer opposed, to approve it.

Luce then said to Willauer, “You get very disrespectful in meetings. I would like that to stop. We’re here to be good leaders. You say we’re judges. I don’t see it that way. ...Think about being polite and not aggressive.”

She argued that decisions of the board should not be about emotions or opinions, or whether someone is miffed.

The Catalano project had generated in the public hearing some concerns from neighbors, who oppose any development on Lermond Pond that would bring an influx of new neighbors or people boating. Catalano said it is not his intention to develop the land along the water or to grant access to the lake to the buyers of the property. He did not agree to putting in writing a requirement that there be no future development or access, noting that he has six children and there may be a desire to do something with the property in the future.

Prior to this disagreement on the board, Willauer had already said he would like to hold a meeting in May to talk to the planning board about their work, noting that there were several new members. Richardson and Luce are new members, though Richardson has extensive experience in serving on planning boards and has worked as a Code Enforcement Officer in the area.

In other business, the board met with Anthony Collins who is proposing a business at 24 Maple Drive, called Collins Custom Services.

Collins said he is a third-generation mechanic and he hopes to do small-engine repair to lawnmowers, chainsaws, trimmers, and older vehicles on the property. He also talked about doing some welding, fabrication, wood work, automobile stereo installation, trap assembly and other general handy and repair work.

Richardson said it was important to keep the business from making noise afterhours and on Sundays. Collins said he would be working about 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and not doing work on Sundays. He also said he does not plan to put up any signs.

He said his business will operate mostly via word of mouth and he has about 50 clients.

He said he has struggled as a result of the pandemic, needing to work from home due to school schedules, and finding it hard to find jobs that allow that.

“I’m not looking for a handout, just to get my livelihood back.

Luce moved to accept his application as complete, which passed 6-0.

The board will hold a site walk on April 14 at 5 p.m. and a public hearing April 21.

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Comments (1)
Posted by: Ivan Stone | Apr 08, 2021 20:55

I happened to listen to this zoom meeting and not once did I find Mr. Willauer to be disrespectful, I thought Mr. Richardson was the disrespectful one.  Money talks in this situation.  Sad day for Lermond Pond landowners!



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