TEWKSBURY — The Board of Selectmen met last week to discuss several one-day event applications. Chairman Jay Kelly was not present but joined the board via teleconference.
The board addressed a one-day special liquor and entertainment license application for Strongwater Farm’s annual hoedown. David Warren, president of Strongwater Farm, explained that the event, which is in its third year, is “part fundraising and part friend-raising.”
The event on Oct. 6 will host two country bands, hayrides, 14 vendors, and a beer truck from Ipswich Brewing. Tickets can be purchased at www.strongwaterfarm.org. The board approved the application and waived fees.
Resident Rob Olivolo raised concerns over a fence on the corner of Nelson Avenue and Marshall Street, citing 100 instances of near-misses this year. Olivolo wanted to know what is being done about the fence. Town Manager Richard Montuori explained that the fence is on private property, and explained that the police chief and DPW are looking at widening the road or painting lines.
“Our hands are tied because it’s not our property... we’re not taking it lightly but sometimes these things take a little more time,” said member Mark Kratman.
Another resident on Marshall Street inquired about an easement with a telephone pole and wanted to know if the fence was in the easement; Kratman stated that he believed the Town Engineer would have considered that in his inspection. Montuori said he would check with the Town Counsel on enforcement actions.
The board reviewed a special one-day entertainment license for Wamesit Lanes’ second annual “Pumpkin Drop” event. Don MacLaren of Wamesit Lanes explained to the board that the entertainment center runs a Halloween-themed event with candy and games for children, culminating in the dropping and subsequent smashing of a giant pumpkin.
McLaren is looking to move the pumpkin drop farther from the edge of the property, lowering the height of the drop, decreasing the size of the pumpkin, and dropping the pumpkin into a pool.
Abutter Chris Colantuonio, owner of Tewksbury Greenery, expressed his “displeasure with the proposed pumpkin drop…[last year showed] a lack of preparation and complete disregard for public safety that Wamesit Lanes employs. It is just by luck that no one was injured last year.”
Colantuonio also raised concerns over the gas main under the Wamesit Lanes parking lot that supplies gas up to Concord, NH, and invoked the memory of last year’s Columbia Gas explosion in Andover, North Andover, and Lawrence.
“If something happens to that gas line, you’re disrupting hundreds of thousands of households,” he said.
Board member Brian Dick asked MacLaren for clarification on his safety precautions. MacLaren explained that last year’s 1,200 lb pumpkin was dropped from 85 feet, and this year’s 700-1,000 lb pumpkin will be dropped from 60 feet.
He is planning to have safety barriers, and the drop will be 100 feet away from the dividing fence between Wamesit Lanes and Tewksbury Greenery.
Dick was concerned about “shrapnel” from the pumpkin; MacLaren stated that the pool of water will keep the pumpkin contained and splash water instead.
Member Annemarie Stronach expressed concern about the “tight quarters” and public safety. She also expressed her frustration that the application was not filed sooner, giving the board more time to work with Wamesit on the plan.
Member Jayne Wellman noted that Wamesit Lanes does not have a permit for a raffle from the town.
“I think the intentions are good, but [the pumpkin drop] last year... that would have killed someone,” said chairman Jay Kelly.
In a 2-3 vote, Mark Kratman and Brian Dick voted to approve the application, and Jayne Wellman, Annemarie Stronach, and Jay Kelly voted against it.
MacLaren decided to cancel the event.
The board returned to discussion on two pole petitions, one at the intersection of Salem Street and Main Street, and the other at the intersection of Charme Road and Shawsheen Street. A National Grid representative explained an updated sketch for the pole.
An abutter who is impacted by the Salem/Main pole returned from last meeting and told the board that all his concerns had been addressed by National Grid. The board approved the Salem/Main pole petition. National Grid withdrew the second pole petition; a resident who is impacted at Charme/Shawsheen is giving National Grid an easement.
The board reviewed Special Town Meeting warrant articles. The board voted to recommend adoption for Articles 1-16 and 19, voted no recommendation on Articles 17 and 18, and postponed action on Article 20.
The board reviewed special permit regulations. Assistant Town Manager Steve Sadwick explained that Town Counsel Charles Zaroulis made updates to the permitting guidelines to reflect new regulations around billboards. The selectboard will be the permitting authority because of the host agreement.
“I wanted to make this generic enough... so if we go for a zoning change, it would be easy enough to create an application,” said Sadwick.
The board voted to approve the regulations.
Wellman noted that the Beautification Committee will be hosting annual town-wide Clean Up Day at town center on Saturday, Oct. 5.
Kratman wanted to commend Governor Charlie Baker for his newly-instated four-month ban on the sale of all vaping products.
The board went into executive session to discuss collective bargaining and potential litigation.
The next meeting is scheduled for Oct. 15, 2019.