All eyes on the Needham Planning Board
Needham voters go to the polls one week from today (April 11) to fill two seats on the Select Board and one seat on the Planning Board.
It's fair to say that the Planning Board contest, between incumbent Adam Block and challenger Rob Dangel, is the most contentious and consequential of the contests.
In fact, the fate of future commercial and residential developments could possibly swing depending on the winner.
But that's not the only reason to keep an eye on the Planning Board next week.
Why don't neighbors like it? Usual reasons: Traffic. Parking. Lighting. Worries about "the children." Yada yada.
But proponents argue that developer Needham Enterprises should have been allowed to build a new facility by right under the state’s Dover Amendment which exempts daycare facilities from certain zoning restrictions.
Plus, there's the fact that the project fell under the size of a special project review. And the use is allowed in the town’s zoning anyway.
Caught in the middle are all those families caught in the middle of a chronic childcare shortage who, pretty please, just want the government to function.
And no matter what happens in court next Tuesday, this was not the Planning Board's finest moment.
Two of its five members disclosed conflicts of interest. But only one member was recused because the law requires four votes and his departure would have left only three board members to deliberate.
Adding to the intrigue Needham Enterprises is the business belonging to Needham Select Board member Matt Borrelli.
So basically we have a Select Board member suing the Planning Board members (including one who should have been recused but wasn't) over a project a judge may rule they didn't have jurisdiction over.
Meanwhile, you won't find Borrelli's name on next Tuesday’s select board ballot.
After 12 years of service, he decided not to seek reelection. And after what the Planning Board put him through, can you blame him?