UPDATE: Special Town Meeting to Vote on New Bikeway

Town residents asked to vote on new bikeway.

Credit: Patch file photo
Credit: Patch file photo
Stoneham residents and voters are urged to attend a special town meeting on 

Articles 1 and 2 pertain to zoning changes that would amend a section that pertains to a railroad right of way district as a bikeway or linear park. Also, the amendment would allow the town to license this pathway. The change is presented by the Stoneham Bikeway/Greenway Committee, which is proposing a community bikeway/greenway. 

Read the description of the warrant articles here. 

Stoneham Patch asked the Stoneham Bikeway/Greenway Committee to expand on the articles: 

"The two articles in the special town meeting have to do with allowing the town to license a small section of the Railroad Right-of-Way (RR ROW).  One article simply extends a zoning overlay that allows for businesses uses on a portion of the RR ROW from Maple street to Cottage street.  It does so by changing the date of section 4.18 in the town by-Laws from June 30, 2014 to October 15, 2014. This is a prerequisite for the town to lease the land for business purposes. The underlying Open Space zoning is unchanged and will remain as the only approved use for the RR ROW after October 15, 2014. 

The second article allows the town to negotiate licenses for temporary use of any portion of the RR Row described above through October 15, 2014. There are important protections in this article for the Greenway including a requirement that the ROW remains passable by residents, a requirement to lease no more that 50% of the width, a requirement that leases are at market rate and a requirement to post a bond in case the licensee does not remove all materials at termination. The bond would allow the town to clear the land without incurring expense. 

The Stoneham bikeway/Greenway Committee's charter and primary focus is to assure the highest quality Greenway is built for the town of Stoneham. This was the charter we received in the 2010 town meeting vote and every member firmly believes in it. Licensing of the Greenway is not a goal of the committee and is only being considered to be good partners with our business community in town and after careful research to assure it does not interfere with funding, design or construction of the Greenway. After the Board of Selectman unanimously agreed to the Special Town meeting, two businesses, Montvale Plaza and Cleveland Fence, came before the committee requesting that the Greenway Committee support very short term licenses on the Greenway to help them transition. 

The decision of the committee was very difficult because this is not a goal of the committee to licence land on the RR ROW.  The businesses gave the Committee absolute assurances that they will leave the land after the licenses expire and talked to the alternate plans they are working on to mange their businesses without the land after the licenses expire. Based on the assurances, extra protections of the articles and a desire to be good neighbors the Greenway committee voted to approve the Articles for the special town meeting." 
Paula B Sarno June 16, 2014 at 07:44 AM
I have a problem with these articles. How long has this been going on and how much opportunity was given for these businesses to vacate this land? Can this bikeway be considered green space for our town and how many years have different members of the bikeway committee worked on securing this bikeway?I realize that the committee has done tremendous work on this and it's members are trying to be fair to these businesses and I want to thank them for their hard work and the amount of time devoted to securing this. As long as these extensions do not harm the bikeway and the funds anticipated from the Commonwealth I can understand these businesses asking for the extension but the limitations cause me some worry. My problem is give them an inch and they will continue to stretch it.
Spartan94 June 16, 2014 at 11:13 AM
The businesses have known about the bike way since 1993. Ample time to move.
Paula B Sarno June 16, 2014 at 12:58 PM
I am a firm believer in green space and we need to account for every inch if we want to deter developers from pushing more CH 40B projects down our throats. We also need to make sure that there is no chance for part of this land to be purchased by these businesses. There has been some movement by these businesses to comply but it has not been significant to my view of showing good faith or interest in improving the town as a whole. These businesses had ample opportunity in the past to buy this land and expand and did not. Why suddenly if they don’t get the leases or buy they are in danger of going out of business? Remember 5 years of opportunities to buy this land and now in the 11th hour suddenly need to survive. Could it be that they think they can buy this land cheap from the Railroad. Stoneham needs all the green space as a community to thrive and create positive growth for our current residents and future. It is time to take back our community as vested taxpayers in this town. Why should we lose several millions in state and federal funds to for these businesses? Remember the more green space available in your community the more viable your real estate value is and the less opportunities for developers such as the Corcoran Group to pillage other areas of Stoneham as they are now attempting at Weiss Farm.
Russ June 17, 2014 at 03:52 PM
Incredibly naïve commentary from the article's author. We need to know if the supporters of these articles (or their relatives) have any related monetary interests. Since when do we expend town money and surrender town assets to businesses? Do we receive free goods and services from these businesses? I think not. It's a one way political street for these people and some of our town officials. Thanks to Ms. O'Neill and Mr. Boussy for representing our interests. Others take heed that we are watching.
Angelo June 24, 2014 at 05:43 PM
Is there a reason Jeff Dearman's comment was removed? Who is censoring him? Last I checked, they haven't yet taken freedom of speech away from us yet! Shame on the Patch for not stopping the perpetrator...


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