Busa Talks Continued Due to Overcrowding
Facing an overflowing meeting room on Monday, Feb. 13, the Lexington selectmen tabled a scheduled discussion of housing on the Busa Farms property, citing concerns about participation and fire code violations.
The house was too full to talk about housing.
With apologizes to Janet Kern, her LexFarm crew and, later, to Dawn McKenna, the resident who alerted his board to the probable capacity problem, selectmen Chairman Hank Manz last night continued a what was to be an hour-long discussion about housing on the Busa Land.
The make-up date is TBD.
According to the selectmen’s posted agenda, the Busa discussion—the third item for individual consideration—was due to come up around 8 p.m., but sizeable crowd gathered in the hallway as the board sat in executive session before the re-opening its meeting at 7 p.m. One woman even brought a lawn chair.
The posted capacity for the Selectmen’s Meeting Room is 55 persons if the room is set up densely with tables and chairs, and 72 if it’s standing room.
Before the public comment period ended, 39 chairs were filled and at least a dozen more lined the windowsills and aisles. In the front of the room, the five selectmen and two town staffers sat around their table. Add another 20-something out in the hallway.
Following an interim report from the Estabrook School Access Ad Hoc Task Force, McKenna voiced her concern that the meeting had exceeded its capacity for the room, and that the people in the hallway could pose a safety hazard.
Initially, Manz brushed off the comment, but he then agreed to take a short recess and see how the room looked after any who came out for the Estabrook item exited the Town Office Building.
A few moments later, Manz returned to the room and announced the Busa discussion would have to be continued, due to the potential fire code violation in the hallway.
When the room had cleared out, Manz thanked McKenna for bringing the possible violation to his attention and, later in the evening, further explained his decision in a post to the popular “Lexington List” Yahoo Group.
“Based on a discussion with the Town Clerk some months ago, and noting that we had a full room with more than 15 people still in the hallway and blocking the passage which would be a violation of the fire code, I reluctantly took the item off the agenda,” Manz wrote.
“My apologies to all who showed up for the meeting. I had based my estimates of how many would attend on the number who showed up for a similar discussion last week. As it turned out, that estimate was wrong. I also apologize for making the decision late in the game.”
Monday’s overflowing meeting came two weeks’ after LexHAB delivered on the selectmen’s request for a plan for four to eight units of affordable housing on the Busa Farms property, which the town purchased in 2009. (Those plans are posted in a PDF, below the photos to the right.)
Following the Jan. 30 presentation, which was met with mixed reviews from the BOS and residents, Manz announced the board would block off at least an hour for discussion about housing on the Busa Land during its Feb. 13 meeting.
Monday night’s meeting was to be, at least in part, a response to questions from LexFarm representatives, residents and backers of strict adherence to the BLUPC report about when there would be public hearings at which there could be open conversations about plans and collaboration.
As of late Monday night it was unclear when that discussion will take place. Next Monday is a holiday – and school vacation week – so that’s out of the question. As well, the selectmen said the next discussion about the Busa Land would be held at Cary Hall, where there is much more room than the Selectmen’s Meeting Room.
Stay tuned to Patch for more information about the next meeting as it becomes available.