MILLBURY — After 16 years as the town’s director of Planning and Development, Laurie Connors is heading to a similar position in Northborough.
Town Manager Sean Hendricks attributed Connors’ departure to the “dysfunction of the Planning Board.”
During the Selectmen’s meeting on Feb. 8, Hendricks blamed the Planning Board’s “abusive behavior to staff” not only for the director’s leaving, but also for developers having second thoughts about pursuing projects in town.
“We’ve had developers come and say ‘I don’t want to come here right now’,” he said.
“It’s a tough job to do,” said Hendricks of the Planning Board. “[But] we want to see some level of respect and decorum.”
Connors will assume her new position in early March.
Hendricks said Assistant Planner Conor McCormack will fill in temporarily while the town searches for a new director.
He said it will not be easy to find someone with Connors’ level of experience.
“She wrote decisions for 16 years, and never lost an appeal,” he said.
There has been no comment from the Planning Board.
The news comes as Millbury deals with a mandate from the MBTA to set aside space for multifamily housing.
Hendricks said, “We don’t have to build, but we need to set aside space.”
Millbury, along with the other 175 communities affected by the mandate, has until May 2 to submit a basic form with some zoning details and hold a briefing with their city or town council or select board.
“This is a mandate. We have to do this,” said Hendricks.
“This has caught a lot of communities by surprise,” said Selectman Christopher Naff. “This isn’t coming out of nowhere … it’s a way of dealing with the [state] housing crisis.”
Town Election update
Town Clerk Jayne Davolio gave Selectmen an update on who has pulled nomination papers for this year’s Town Election so far:
Board of Selectmen – 2 Seats: Mary Krumsiek and Scott J. Despres
Board of Assessors – 1 Seat: Jude T. Cristo
School Committee – 2 Seats: Jennifer B. Nietupski, Nicholas Lazzaro, Sean Michael Cooper, Jan P. Hanratty
Redevelopment Authority – 1 Seat: open seat
Board of Health – 1 Seat : Ronald J. Marlborough
Planning Board – 2 Seats: open seat and Bruce M. Devault, Francis De Simone
Library Trustees (three years) – 3 Seats: Christine Brady, Eric M. Boll, Christine Marie Fintzel
Library Trustees (one year) – 1 Seat: open seat
Papers are available at the Town Clerk’s office; the deadline to file papers (50 signatures required) is March 8 at 5 p.m.
The Town Election will take place April 26 from 7 a.m-8 p.m. at the junior-senior high school.
… Selectman David Delaney led a discussion on whether the town could purchase pallet shelters to help the local homeless.
He said there are currently five people “with no place to live;” a pallet shelter, which are currently in use in Boston and Worcester, can house two people. The shelters are energy efficient, reasonably priced, foldable and can be used in case of emergencies, such as when someone is displaced by a house fire.
Delaney said that the cost for five shelters would be $27,000, and would “keep them from living in tents on the bike path.”
Members questioned where the shelters would be placed, how the shelters would be maintained, the shelters’ lack of plumbing and whether the shelters could withstand cold weather.
“I like the idea of helping … we need to identify the ‘where’,” said Naff.
… Hendricks provided an update on how Millbury will be using funds from the American Recovery Plan Act. Proposed projects include setting aside $250,000 for small business grants; design plans for three bridges; new sinks, toilets and hot water tank for the Police Department’s cell block; and HVAC for the Millbury Public Library.
“We’ve got some good stuff in the works,” he said.
… Board members commended the DPW for its efforts during the recent blizzard and ice storm.
… The board accepted a $3,000 from Wheelabrator on behalf of the Board of Fire Engineers, and approved an amended charge for the Roadway Advisory Commission.