One of Jeff Spinney’s neighbors after another on Zoom Wednesday night criticized his and the town’s shoreland deal. Selectmen signed the agreement they said Spinney, of Golden Ridge Road, also signed and abutters declined to sign. Board members called the agreement a compromise that was in the town’s best interest.
“What the hell is going on,” neighbor Mark DesMueles said. He and other speakers took issue with the process and the pact, including its naming of people not in the mediation talks.
Second Selectman Doug Baston said the names are on there if people took part or signed a confidentiality agreement so they could be consulted.
“I believe you guys are knuckling under ...,” Jon Luoma said. Ona Brazwell said it was “borderline reckless” for selectmen to consider signing the agreement she said risks more legal action due to the names issue, the project’s already being done, and Spinney’s lawyer’s involvement in the planning board’s work on its findings of fact.
Allen Philbrick said he and fellow abutters understand they have no control over what selectmen do, he respected the selectboard’s position and hoped the board respected theirs. He said the agreement does not resolve every issue and has several provisions he, as a lawyer, would not agree to “in any agreement,” on procedural, not substantive, grounds.
“This has been an incredibly difficult journey that we’ve been on,” Third Selectman Greg Shute said. “And I’m hopeful that we can bring this to an end. The Sheepscot is a natural resource that really defines our town ... and I enter into the important work of signing this settlement agreement with my own deep connection to the river,” he said. He lives on it.
He said he and Baston have spent hours reading all the information available. “And I take the responsibilities of being a selectman seriously. And my guiding star in considering this settlement agreement is to do what I honestly feel is in the best interest of the town. Not what’s best for me, not what’s best for Jeff, not what’s best for the abutters, even. It’s really (about) the greatest, best interest of the town.”
The agreement was the only way to get restrictions, including no increase in the site’s use and no aluminum rollout mat over the earthwork, Shute said. He knew signing it would disappoint some, but it was for the greater good, he said.
Baston told the agreement’s critics, a good chunk of town feels “there is nothing wrong with what Mr. Spinney is doing.” He continued, coming to the agreement “I don’t think makes us evil people (or) corrupt ... That’s what I think we’re seeing playing out nationally tonight (at the Capitol incident), the fact that people can’t accept differences of opinion. They can’t compromise. They can’t say, ‘You know what, this is an imperfect agreement, but we all got a little bit and ... gave a little bit, and we all need to move on.
“And folks, that’s what this town needs to do. It needs to move on. Let this go.”
Spinney said, contrary the claims of some, he is doing nothing illegal at the site. He said he is happy with the agreement and thinks it is fair.
Johnson and fellow resident Ed Pentaleri are appealing to the town’s appeals board the Dec. 10 planning board decision, according to the Jan. 6 appeal notice.
Also Jan. 6, selectmen said they sent 7-year-old Grace Walker of Bailey Road a belated reply to her November letter about people dumping items on that road. Selectmen said they thanked her for involving herself in the town, and apologized for not getting back to her.
“I just feel bad,” Baston said. He said Walker’s letter was lost for a month and half “because of all the other crap we’ve been doing.”
Noting the town owns land on Pinkham Pond, Baston said the board will have the recreation committee look at putting up a “No dumping” sign and maybe a game camera; meeting participants then pondered a town-wide, roadside cleanup day, an idea Maria Jenness said she has raised to the committee.
Near the meeting’s close, Town Clerk Sheila McCarty praised the dedication of First Selectman Melissa Spinney, absent due to illness, and the other selectmen in helping residents; the officials wished Melissa Spinney a speedy recovery; and Shute looked forward to when people are vaccinated for COVID-19, meetings are in-person again and people can go out and talk afterward about their families and work, “the really important things ... that’s what’s been missing.”