Article 9 naysayers barely hold off a vigorous campaign

Once again both the abuters and the developer failed to achieve a conclusive resolution on the issue of  how to develop the Lorusso property sitting on the Route 1/495 interchange.

In the meanwhile, the community continues to suffer the fall out from this very noxious debate as empty-nesters and preservationists battle against families with young children for how to fund the schools and other municipal services.

It’s time to step out of the echo bunkers and engage in a productive discussion that acknowledges neither party will achieve total victory.

Last time, Mr. Lorusso was overwhelmingly defeated. This time opponents of Article 9 barely held off a vigorous attempt by members of the community and the developer to rezone the parcel to C2.

According to the Wrentham Clerk’s office  425 votes were recorded for Article 9. In a stunning reversal from the results of the owner’s last attempt to rezone that property, the yay-sayers garnered  247 yes votes  to the nay-sayer’s 178 no votes. Nevertheless, state law requires a 2/3 majority for zoning amendments which means the initiative fell short by about 34 votes.

The town clerk’s office unofficially estimates approximately 500 registered voters checked in at the beginning of the meeting. which suggests a net loss of 75 voters by the time Town Meeting took up Article 9.

Because of the Warrant’s size, the high likelihood the meeting would be continued, and Financial Committee Chair Jerry McGovern’s unavailability on Tuesday, June 11, Moderator Keith Billian took the FinCom articles out-of-order. That put off action on Article 9 until much later in the evening.

It’s not clear who left or why, however many supporters believe it was parents with school aged children, whom they reckoned as yes votes.

There were presentations given by the Economic Development Committee, the developer’s representative, Amy O’Brien, a vocal abutter and naysayer, and proponent Diedre Foley.

In addition the Moderator took comments from abutters and which point then someone moved the question. That deprived Town Meeting of the opportunity to vet the competing facts and suss out more concessions from the developer.

The sad thing is for all the energy spent on this issue, nothing really got resolved. No one believes the developer will give up on his quest to rezone. Neither does anyone think the Madison Street neighborhood will change its mind.

It’s time for the community to step in and articulate a vision for that property which protects the abutters interests and allows the property owner to develop the parcel to its highest use. Both parties have to grow up and accept less than what they want.

We need to get all the parties together and find ways to build consensus instead of waiting for the developer, the abutters, and the Wrentham-is-a-country-town-love-it-or-leave-it crowd to find common ground on their own. That is not going to happen.

It’s a failure on the part of both the abutters and the developer to strike a bargain. The former have to accept some consequences for buying homes in such close proximity to a major highway interchange (regardless of what they thought the day they signed the deed) and the land owner needs to make a credible and sincere effort to mitigate the impact upon the Madison Street residents.

Otherwise,  the debate over the Lorusso property will continue acting like a bad hot dog. It will keep on repeating until the community finds a way to keep it in our stomach long enough to digest. But rest assured, it’s eventually coming out the other end.

2 Replies to “Article 9 naysayers barely hold off a vigorous campaign”

  1. Yes and no. The numbers imply an epic beatdown. But, you are correct, Lorusso tried unsuccessfully to pull the article before Town Meeting. What followed is case in point for the argument that he is his own worse enemy. I don’t know who advises him on Town Meeting strategy and board relations, or whether he keeps his own counsel, but he never should have let the main measure come to a vote. In descending order he could have 1. withdrawn the measure from the floor by not answering the call for action. 2. made a motion to have it tabled. 3. made a motion to indefinitely postpone it.

    The naysayers would have declared victory no matter what but with no vote taken, they could not legitimately claim the moral high ground.

    “Anonymous,” I appreciate your comments but in the future please use your real name. I find people tend to be more polite when others know who they are. And anyway, you don’t really hide your identity when you give a fake name and email address. I just checked my server logs and did two minutes of research and know who you are.

  2. Lorusso was not overwhelmingly defeated last time. He tried and failed to have the article removed from the town meeting warrant. The lopsided voted reflected his desire to killed his own article.

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