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Has common sense been lost over tree?
To the Editor: Is it me, or have we lost all common sense? Consider the strange connection between a five-lot subdivision off of Farquhar Road, the infamous Tree 25 (a.k.a. "The Tree") on McGilpin Road, and condominiums? Spaho Corporation appeared before the Board of Selectmen on Nov. 15, 2004, requesting sewer connections for 21 condominiums that were approved 4-0, with one abstention. On March 6, 2006, Spaho Corp. appeared before the Board of Selectmen with modified plans reducing the initial request from 21 sewer connections to 20, due to wetlands issues, etc. During that meeting several selectmen, along with two members of the Conservation Commission argued that the plans represented substantial changes, necessitating further review. On May 1, selectmen (contrary to a legal opinion from Town Counsel) voted 4-1 to rescind the previously approved Sewer Connection because the plans had changed "substantially." They instructed Spaho to file new plans. Interestingly enough, Town Counsel explained that the changes may be "… substantial from a Planning Board perspective, but not in the sense of the sewer connections approved by the B.O.S. acting as Sewer Commissioners, since the total connections have been reduced from 21 to 20 inches. This rescission effectively dealt the deathblow to this project, as the time and expense of re-submitting, coupled with other factors lead this proponent instead to a five-lot subdivision. As the previously approved 21 sewer connections were rescinded, and none were forthcoming for the five-lot subdivision, the plans would now necessitate the inclusion of septic systems. Certainly, considering the space requirements for septic systems, this will result in the

http://www.southbridgeeveningnews.com/Letters-8618.113119_Has_common_sense_been... 1/22/2008

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clear cutting of hundreds and hundreds of trees in an environmentally sensitive area. Adding insult to injury, the Sturbridge Board of Health has determined that once the Sewer Moratorium is lifted, these houses are mandated to tie into the town's wastewater system. You read this correctly. These homeowners, who will be forced to shoulder the upfront costs associated with septic systems, will ultimately have to spend additional funds to tie into the town's sewer system once the Moratorium is lifted. Effectively these homeowners will be double billed due to the selectmen's intransience. Let's be clear, I am not taking issue with Sturbridge Board of Health, for although I am not completely sold on the rational applied here, the fact of the matter is that the Board of Selectmen created this problem. When a proponent who has been previously approved for 21 sewer connections is now granted none, because of a so-called "substantial" change (reduction of one) despite town counsel's opinion to the contrary, then something smells a bit odd. Some may argue that the developer is at fault here for proceeding forward with a project under such conditions. But one might also consider that were it your land and you were hoping to make a profit in today's depressed market, you may well determine it best to just move ahead and make whatever profit you could. Now juxtapose this situation necessitating the clear cutting of hundreds of trees in an environmentally sensitive area, against the selectmen's recent determination to save "The Tree" on McGilpin Road — home to a selectman. Here, against all logic, selectmen overturned a decision of the DPW director and the tree warden to remove a hazard (dead, dying, decaying) tree, saving it to satisfy a handful of residents, while simultaneously altering pre-approved and pre-planned improvements to a public way. It must be one heck of a tree. Yup, it makes perfect sense, considering how "paranoid" we are about sewer, to quote a selectman. Thomas R. Creamer Fiskdale Thomas R. Creamer Fiskdale January 22, 2008

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http://www.southbridgeeveningnews.com/Letters-8618.113119_Has_common_sense_been... 1/22/2008