Several of the of the high school project have been pushed back, but the tentative hearing date remains the same unless a settlement is reached beforehand.
Kevin MacDonald, the spokesman for one of the appeals, said he recently had a lengthy conversation with Wilmington Town Counsel Dan Deutsch as a part of the required good faith settlement talks.
Board of Selectmen chairman Mike Newhouse, however, said that while he is hopeful those talks are successful, the town continues to prepare for the event that the process continues right up until the .
“Like everyone, at each milestone I am hopeful an opportunity presents itself to be done with this process,” said Newhouse. “But I continue to focus on the hearing date as the date we need to prepare for and continue to do our work. At every milestone date you’re hopeful that there’s an opportunity to short circuit this process and continue with this project.”
Originally, Tuesday was the deadline for the appellants to submit a more definite statement in order to show cause. However, due to DEP lawyers and the attorney for abutter Gerry O’Reilly being out of town recently, all sides agreed to move that date and others back.
When asked whether he believes the appeal will go all the way to the scheduled hearing date rather than being settled prior to it, MacDonald said it’s still too early to tell.
“I can’t say,” said MacDonald. “I am hoping we can reach a settlement. I’ll be talking to Mr. O’Reilly and his attorney this week, so I’ll get some better direction and try to pull everything together and see what people feel.”
There remains the possibility that the town could begin construction on areas that are outside of the wetlands in question. It is unclear at this point if that is an option the town is exploring.
While the appeals process has been a , MacDonald said his efforts have been well-received around town.
“A lot of people are telling me they appreciate me telling them about the environment and protecting the water supplies,” said MacDonald. “You run into people on both sides. Generally the people with children in school who might not know all the circumstances are pro-high school project. The people who take an interest and want to know details are respectful for me protecting the environment.”
Newhouse said that nothing in the appeals process has changed the town’s stance on its proposed high school.
“Given the latest deadline, let’s see what happens next. I’m not making any predictions or comments, but let’s see when there’s news and then we’ll talk about it,” said Newhouse. “We’re just doing our thing, preparing to build this project. From my standpoint, it’s not a question of if, but when.”