, Salem, MA


June 22, 2013

Letter: Strange doings at Beverly meetings

To the editor:

Strange events have happened during recent Beverly City Hall meetings. Councilor Donald Martin, for example, has special qualities: he can make himself disappear. And in that state he communicated to the Legal Affairs Committee and its chairperson, Councilor Wesley Slate, on May 29. At the following June 3 meeting of the entire council, Councilor Slate reported, “Councilor Martin was present for that discussion and agreed to it.” I was totally confused: Although I was at the May 29 meeting, I did not see Councilor Martin nor hear him express an opinion.

What further confused me were comments on changes to the Special Permits section of zoning ordinances (local laws), which seemed unrelated to the Water Supply Protection Overlay District, although they were grouped under a common title: Proposed Zoning Amendments (“Companions” to SDWA’s Proposed Amendments) presented to the City Council. (SDWA is the Safe Drinking Water Alliance, proponents of the Water Supply Protection Overlay District.)

On May 6 a public hearing was held on Orders 52 and 57. City Planner Tina Cassidy and Assistant Planner Leah Zambernardi presented a summary of these ordinance changes to the City Council and Planning Board, at which time public hearings followed on each order. These orders proposed changes to parking zoning regulations (No. 52) and changes to Zoning Board of Appeals special permits (No. 57). Ms. Cassidy urged the council to approve them, providing a jumble of information. The council, however, was confused, and so were citizens who were present at the meeting.

Why do I bring up these details? Why? Because I believe the public should understand what is happening at Beverly City Hall meetings. Adding pieces of proposed ordinances to pieces of existing ordinances, extending a number of conditions to existing ordinances, and frequently referring to the orders only by number, is as understandable as the lines from Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky” poem, which I partially read to the Council several weeks ago:

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves

Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;

All mimsy were the borogoves,

And the mome raths outgrabe.”

Let’s try again, councilors and Ms. Cassidy.

Renée M. Mary


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