Selectmen Won't Bend The Rules On Sidewalks
Board of Selectmen denied a resident's petition to put pavers down on a town sidewalk rather than concrete.
It was a battle against decades old town bylaws at Wednesday night's Board of Selectmen meeting.
Alan Chipman, a resident of 12 Dodge Road, appeared before the board to petition that they allow him to use pavers to connect his driveway to the sidewalk and ultimately the street, in place of cement as is regulated by the town.
"I'm asking the Board of Selectmen to approve the use of pavers across the sidewalk to meet the street at the same level as the street," Chipman said.
Pavers, commonly used in new construction, are pre-cast pieces of concrete or brick used for driveways and sidewalks. It is believed to be stronger than concrete as it interlocks and typically won't crack when tree roots lift.
Chipman used pavers on his driveway, but stopped at the sidewalk. While he noted "over 100" homes already put down pavers, he waited to ask the board for an exception to the rule and allow him to continue the pavers to the street.
In Chipman's presentation to the selectmen, he presented members with a series of images he had taken around town of properties, including those of the selectmen, where pavers were used.
"I'd like to hear about your home, not anyone elses," Jackie Belf-Becker said. "You're asking for a one-time exception so let's talk about that."
With his contractor in tow, Chipman detailed how his driveway would be safer than town streets if he were to be allowed to use the pavers.
"I understand the issue is it could be a liability to the town," Chipman said, noting in his conversations with the highway department and Town Administrator Anthony Sasso that the common criticism has been snowplows could hit the pavers and cause them to lift up, thus endangering people walking down the street. "But what liability does the town have with the tree roots uplifting the sidewalks all across town?"
Despite Chipman's thorough research of paver use around town, Selectwoman Judy Jacobi said the petition puts the board in a tough place.
"I commend your contractor for coming here to get a permit," Jacobi said, noting others just put the pavers down in violation of town laws. "But this permit would put us in a tough position."
Jacobi said the streets and sidewalks are regulated in town to meet accessibility requirements for the handicapped.
"As soon as we allow encroachment on town property, it's hard to say no to others," Jacobi said. "I couldn't support this petition."
Selectman Mike Rockett noted the abuse of pavers in town has become a problem, but he couldn't grant the permit.
"The town bylaws are flawed," Chipman offered as a last resort. "They should change with the times. Pavers are put all over town and they aren't as good, but better than what's being put down on the sidewalks by the town."
The board voted unanimously not to grant Chipman's permit to put pavers down on the town sidewalk.
In Other News:
- Owner of Trattoria Sablone's, Jessica Sablone Maffeo, told the board she recently made the decision to sell her restaurant and asked the board to extend her liquor license while she found a buyer. Noting three buyers were interested in the property, Maffeo said if her license were to lapse, the property would not sell. The Board of Selectmen extended her liquor license for 30 days until the end of September when she will update them.
- October 24 was declared United Nations Day
- A letter was sent to the Board of Selectmen from B2 Studios in Hollywood, Calif., asking for permission to film a two-minute segment in Marblehead on August 27 for an upcoming Disney Channel special on family trees. The episode will focus on Noah Gerry and his family and the segment will be filmed in front of landmarks in town featuring the Gerry name. Noah Gerry is a decedent of the fifth vice president of the United States, Elbridge Gerry.
- The Board of Selectmen has made the minutes from eight executive session meetings dating back to 2007 public documents. Town Administrator Anthony Sasso noted they pertain to the cleanup of the lead mills.
- August 25 is the last day to register to vote in the September 14 primary elections. Absentee ballots are now available and must be back in the clerk's office by Sept. 13.
- Permission was granted for Maddie's Sail Loft to have live entertainment upstairs on Wednesday night as long as no music can be heard outdoors.