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Officials Blast State Laws, MacDonald Defends Appeal

Town Manager Michael Caira calls the appeals process 'illogical,' while appeal spokesman Kevin MacDonald said school issues need to be addressed.

Frustrated with what they believe to be , town officials told Wilmington Patch that Massachusetts laws need a change. The spokesman for one of the latest appeals, however, believes things are fine just the way they are.

Town Manager Michael Caira spoke out against the structure of the , saying it is far too easy for residents to slow down a project that was by Wilmington voters.

“The 10-resident appeal is being led by a man who was opposed to building a high school because he felt the one we have is sufficient. The state has allowed him to find a way to work to derail the project,” said Caira. “It’s illogical and poorly conceived by the state, and now we’re seeing it come home to roost here in town.”

Kevin MacDonald is the man Caira referred to, as the of the school project is the spokesman for the that was filed hours before last Friday’s deadline.

MacDonald said there are many reasons he appealed the high school plans. His list includes the oil in the ground beneath the school, the plans for off-site mitigation and what he believes is an over-inflated construction cost.

“Sometimes people try to say, ‘Oh well there are only 10 people who want to appeal,’ but I could have gotten hundreds of signatures if I put the time in,” said MacDonald, who said if the laws need a change, it’s in the other direction. “I actually think it should only be one person needed to start an appeal.”

Board of Selectmen Chairman Mike Newhouse concurred with Caira’s sentiment that the laws make it far too easy for residents to file appeals in an effort to delay construction on projects they don’t agree with.

“These regulations need to be significantly revised,” said Newhouse. “It makes no sense to me that 10 residents who need not be registered voters, or even American citizens, only need one member having attended a Conservation Commission meeting to thwart the will of the people without repercussions of frivolous claims. That just doesn’t make sense.”

Several residents have questioned the use of four Deming Way residents as members of MacDonald’s appeal, which includes a total of 14 signatures. Residents have questioned if those senior citizens knew what they were signing when joining the appeal.

Despite what other residents have suggested, MacDonald said every Deming Way resident knew what they were signing and were not tricked in an effort to reach the number of necessary appellants. 

“Everybody that signed the appeal was in their right mind and had the entire thing explained to them,” said MacDonald. “I had the package with me and told them specifically that they were signing a petition for the (Department of Environmental Protection) to review the superseding order of conditions that was issued.”

Caira said it is not only the inclusion of Deming Way residents that concerns him. The Town Manager said he believes there are other residents who joined a cause they might not have had all of the details about.

“I don’t know if they’ve been taken advantage of, but if they have that would be an egregious act on the part of any individual,” said Caira. “It’s not only folks on Deming Way, though I have heard that some of the people who were approached may not have understood fully what they were signing. It is a question that needs to be examined with everybody who signed that petition.”

The Town Manager said there is no update on the timeline of the appeals, as the town waits for the DEP to assign a hearings officer for the case. Caira said the town’s attorney has already consulted with DEP, since the two are working in concert to resolve the appeal and move forward with the project.

Newhouse said the town remains confident that it will prevail in the latest appeals. But the chairman said he remains frustrated by the state laws that have put the town in the position to delay construction of its new school.

“The whole idea of the laws is to allow due process,” said Newhouse. “There is abuse of any system. But the threshold to abuse the process with tactics, that bar just is not high enough.”

MacDonald and other petitioners, however, believe the problem isn’t with the laws, but instead with the plans.

“If one person in the country knew that the cigarette manufacturing companies were putting chemicals into cigarettes, and the rest of the country didn’t believe it, I think that one person should be able to be heard and appealed,” said MacDonald. “There’s a problem here, and we want them to take a hard look at this. If there is a problem, let’s deal with it.”

Marion Bradford August 03, 2012 at 01:41 PM
Well we all really knew who was behind this, didn't we? Kevin the mouth.....
Katie C. H. August 03, 2012 at 01:54 PM
I didn't even need to read this article to come up with this question: "Shouldn't the local officials have known going into this process that these laws were written in a fashion that allowed such appeals?"
Jennifer Capua August 03, 2012 at 02:00 PM
Wow, Kevin, I did not realize you were a board certified psychiatrist and were able in the two minutes you talked to these people to deem them competent. I have no problem with the appeals process. People have the right to appeal something if they feel it is not right, utilizing a reasonable, cogent argument. However, purporting that you are able to deem anyone competent without a psychiatric evaluation and cognitive testing is arrogant and asinine. Please leave the eldery alone-using a vunerable population for your agenda is the mark of a weak-minded person.
Mathew Jancsics August 03, 2012 at 02:39 PM
It’s rather funny for me as in other threads a person who appeared to be a sympathizer with the appellants really went out of their way to argue the benefit of the doubt, that there may be some cause to their concern. I on the other hand as my usual skeptic-self felt this was nothing more than an effort to delay and punish the town and townspeople who seemed against *them*. However having personally read the appeals, the stories, and now seeing McD’s comments it is beyond clear that this is just their attempt at revenge and nothing more. I agree fully with town management and have argued on a number of occasions that these appellants are doing nothing more than abusing a system so that they may further their vendetta against the town at everyone else’s expense. Truly a shame when $200, some people who don’t know what they are talking about and have a grudge, combined with some mislead individuals can hold up a project of this scale and negatively financially impact a town as they are doing. All of these points they raise have been covered ad nauseum, they had every chance to work with town management but instead took the path of the most resistance. The laws should be changed and these people should incur some penalty for abusing the system and wasting people’s time and money.
Katie C. H. August 03, 2012 at 02:51 PM
You might be referring to my comments, Mathew. I am new to Wilmington and know no little history of this issue or the people involved on either "side". I have read neither the plans nor the appeals so my comments stem from the perspective of "weren't we, as a town, prepared both monetarily and time-costs-wise for appeals to be made, and if so, why not?" If we were to have no appeals, then, we would be in a) under budget (hello, rarity!) and b) on time (how lovely it would be to open a new school possibly earlier than anticipated). I would like a new high school for the town so that when I have children of that age, they are able to benefit fully from the town's ingenuity, careful planning, and respect for education.
Tom August 03, 2012 at 03:17 PM
“There’s a problem here, and we want them to take a hard look at this. If there is a problem, let’s deal with it.” Which one is it? "There's a problem here...." or "If there is a problem...." You don't really know do you, Mr. MacDonald?
Pat Smith August 03, 2012 at 03:29 PM
I agree with Deb on the statement that they should have to pay for the appeals but I also agree that the people who want this new school should be the only ones who pay for it and the ones who don't shouldn't have to pay for it. In this economy where I barely can pay my bills and might have to sell because of the increased taxes this is going to have that anyone who doesn't want it shouldn't have to pay for it... There are more then one side to this debate.
Michael Calvo August 03, 2012 at 03:30 PM
The majority of the appellants are simply obstructionists, plain and simple and one of them was heard stating as such. The new school is the right investment for the future of the town and the education of our children and was voted in with an overwhelming majority. I find it ironic that most if not all of the appellants *do not* have children that would even attend the new school. It is sad that these legal loop holes exist and that a small minority who refuse to accept the will of the majority can delay something that will inevitably happen anyways. I agree that the laws need to change and frivolous appeals and law suits should have financial consequences.
suz sull August 03, 2012 at 03:33 PM
The DEP did not approve the project on 2 occasions, the DEP approved it with modified conditions after the last appeal. The first appeal resulted in a withdrawal for the filing of the turf field which resulted in a withdrawal from the town due to not meeting the act. It would have been not approved if not for the withdrawal. Just good to have correct information.
Al Roberts August 03, 2012 at 03:59 PM
Yeah Suzy were gonna believe you with regard to correct information. You cant even count parking spaces.
Kevin Mac August 03, 2012 at 04:41 PM
I wish you people would leave Kevin alone. He is a concerned citizen looking out for the youth of Wilmington or who knows why he is doing this. If there is oil there, we should tap into it before the Clampetts find out, tap it, and move to Beverly Hills.
jozkid August 03, 2012 at 04:54 PM
Are you serious? You think residents should be able to pick and choose which improvements they want in the community and pay only for those which they favor? I feel for you and your current economic difficulties, truly. But the town simply cannot operate that way - it would be pure chaos. Nothing would ever get done, nothing would ever be built, nothing would ever get fixed. What would you have us do? Put a donation jar at town hall? This why we have elections and town meetings. Of the people who cared enough to show up at the town meeting, the majority voted for the new high school. Yes, there is another side of this debate, but obviously those against the plan were in the minority or just didn't bother to show up. I don't mean to sound callous, but this is the reality of the situation. Frankly, you should be upset by those who wish to appeal the plans no matter what. Additional delays will mean more money spent in legal fees, redesigns, probable rises in the interest rates, etc... And you know what? The high school will still probably be built anyway, but with millions more owed.
Linda August 03, 2012 at 06:07 PM
Do we know the names of the other appellants? Please post their names.
Paul August 03, 2012 at 06:33 PM
the names were posted earlier. And i seen that 4 of them do not even pay property taxes.
NP August 03, 2012 at 06:45 PM
you can find them at this site.... https://www.facebook.com/groups/328812377208195/
Pete S C August 03, 2012 at 09:48 PM
NP, Here they are: Kevin F MacDonald Gerald O'Reilly Michael Bodnar Mike Shay Larissa Bodnar Len J Coffill Arthur W Jensen George G Lingenfelter George A D'India Grace T Block Winifred Gioiosa Robert L Clark Evenlyn M Grassia Ilona Lingenfelter
Pete S C August 03, 2012 at 09:50 PM
Sorry NP, that was for Linda.
Mathew Jancsics August 04, 2012 at 12:02 AM
Katie, I was not referring to you and or any of your comments, there was another person in some other posts who I believe is a sympathizer to the appellants yet tried to put themselves forward as a supporter of the High School. With that said and to reply to your post, I believe, and this is only my take, that the Town Officials, School Committee members, and other involved parties were fully aware that these appeals would occur, even with them being pretty open and accommodating to those who were vocal about their concerns. The problem is that even though they were aware and ready for such action it still comes at a cost, and a considerable one, and as evidenced by Pat’s reply some people (possibly most) are stretched pretty thin, so while they might approve a HS project at one cost, the true cost due to these legal actions might be considerably more. Also if the appellants really had a solid set of “issues” they were raising then I feel most wouldn’t be as frustrated, but instead virtually everyone sees this for what it is, and that is just a game, they are dragging this out to get people more upset as some form of revenge.
webmom August 04, 2012 at 02:02 AM
“If one person in the country knew that the cigarette manufacturing companies were putting chemicals into cigarettes, and the rest of the country didn’t believe it, I think that one person should be able to be heard and appealed,” said MacDonald. I TOTALLY disagree with you MacDonald. Your thought process would stifle every and any project in the country. I don't need to know the size of the bolts, the size of the windows. This is what I leave to the engineers, etc. of any project. I had my house built, I approved the size/scope/shape of the home, I left the rest to the builder and his expertise. This is how it works. You actually have to trust some goverment to do it's job, to handle a job. We can't be experts on it all.That is how it is..your side results in pure gridlock. In every direction..gridlock. Capping an oil spill is an accepted form of remediation...not every spill is cleaned, some are capped. Get over yourself.
Karl Ian Sagal August 05, 2012 at 01:37 AM
Actually, jozkid, For many years, this community did exactly charge the people who wanted an improvement to the infrastructure and did not add it to the general public for all to pay. The term was called 'betterment' and if the resident's of a street wanted it paved or something like that, they would be charged a betterment charge over the period of 10 or 20 years, to pay off the cost of the improvement that specifically benefited them. The first appeal caused the town to withdraw a plan for the artificial turf field which would not have been approved, so the first appeal helped the town. The second appeal caused the DEP to add conditions to the order of conditions that the town will use to build the school, and these conditions will help to protect the wet lands, so the second appeal did help to improve the plan, and protect the town. This 3rd set of appeals (there are two, and they are not the same) do seem to deal with issues that have been vetted before, and while I do have respect for some of the appellants, I have less inclination to believe that they will result in a benefit to the town, but will be a net loss instead. I have said before, and say again now, I believe it is time to move on. Condition the work if necessary, but move on. The delay will not result in no new High school, the delay will only result in a more expensive one.
Kevin MacDonald August 06, 2012 at 11:59 AM
http://www.reedconstructiondata.com/rsmeans/models/high-school/massachusetts/boston/ I would suggest that you go to this web site webmom and find the most expensive cost per square foot and multiply it by 193,000 square feet and tell the Patch community if we should still trust government. I believe the cost of the school was reported to be $82 million dollars. Do the math; is there a problem?
Kevin Mac August 06, 2012 at 01:45 PM
I did not realize with all your talents and skills that you area descendant of Euclid.
Wade Samatis Kennedy August 06, 2012 at 08:15 PM
Informative website. But these figures appear to only refer to "construction costs". So if we subtract this estimate (I get about $28 million) from the $82 million, does the rest of the money go towards the furnishings and technology being installed in the school? I don't think the "Construction Cost" includes all that other stuff.
Karl Ian Sagal August 07, 2012 at 12:20 AM
Wade, I noticed the same thing, and wondered if there was a publicly available breakdown from construction vs total costs. But beyond the furnishings and technology that you mentioned, there are things like the turf field that is part of the project but not part of the construction costs, nor approved as a matching funds issue from the state, and things like the demolition of the current high school, which I do not think is a matching funds part of the project and surely is not a construction cost. A web site like that is good as a starting point, but there are very big problems with trying to just apply a simple formula to an example there, and extrapolate what it should realistically be here. But it is a good starting point, just the same.
Kevin MacDonald August 07, 2012 at 02:24 AM
Karl, this example is the most costly way to build from the model examples. The architects stated that it is to be a metal frame construction which is not the most expensive way to build according to the model. Simulated stone is to be used not real stone such as limestone. The architect stated that the demolition is estimated to be $2 million dollars. It should be noted that the site work is not going out for competitive bid on the central register procurement listing for Massachusetts projects. When one looks at the amount of class rooms and looks at what a class room contains then looks at a new house that is selling for $560,000 with 4 bedrooms,2 1/2 baths, living room,dining room, family room, kitchen, appliances fireplace, granite counter tops, hardwood floors,2 car garage, driveway, septic system, utilities, 1/2 acre of land, landscaping, fixtures and many other components then figures out that we are paying over 1 million dollars per classroom it doesn't make sense. Where is all the money going?
Maryann August 07, 2012 at 01:27 PM
Kevin; Where is all the money going: To pay for your bogus appeal because the only thing you care about is getting a pound of flesh!!!!!
Shawn Judge August 08, 2012 at 01:57 PM
Why can't we all get along? I'm thinking that all of this would go away if someone would invest in a roll of duct tape!!
Karl Ian Sagal August 09, 2012 at 12:50 AM
Interesting idea. Who would get to choose who gets to tape whom?
Foghorn Leghorn August 12, 2012 at 07:51 PM
Great.. I say Great Idea Karl…I will make this as simply as I can, so I say so even you can understand. Well people, Karl wants to know…whom..I say whom would you like to see sporting a heavy dose of duct tape? A: Karl B: Kevin C: Wright in candidate Let the Votin begin I say start now…
Josephine MorningStar September 12, 2012 at 01:05 PM
Thank you for looking in the mirror when you posted your comment here, Oh Wait, you didnt look..did you??? if you had you would know that your comment was more a slap in the face to the Elders (note i did say Elders which is a more respectful form) then to the one you were aiming at. By your statement, you are arguing that they are not. As an elder in this community for 11 yrs, Forgive me if i do not agree with your assessments of the Elders on Deming Way

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