Selectmen Discuss but Don't Sign Inn at Hastings Park MOU

Thursday night's Selectmen meeting had the board discussing the memorandum of understanding for the proposed inn/restaurant at Hastings Park that could be legally binding if Article 34 passes at Town Meeting.

The Board of Selectmen spent a majority of its meeting Thursday, May 3, talking about a memorandum of understanding (MOU) regarding the the proposed The Inn at Hastings Park.

Basically, the MOU is a series of guidelines set by various town officials for proposed . 

The MOU is a legally binding document between the town and Trisha Perez Kennealy, petitioner of Article 34, and would also bind any future proprietors of the inn/restaurant to the same guidelines. The MOU obligates the development team to follow strict rules from site development to parking and transportation concerns to more loosely related “on-going” commitments.

Although it was expected that the selectmen would agree upon and sign the MOU alongside Kennealy Thursday night, as a final precaution the selectmen will be meeting with the Planning Board by Monday to review the MOU's final language and add any minor details the Planning Board may want to interject.

“Monday night we will be ready to vote yeah or nay on this,” said selectmen Chairman Hank Manz. “I'm sorry we had to delay this a little further.”

The Selectmen made a point to note that after they meet with the Planning Board, the MOU will be up for public view and comment on the town website as soon as Monday.

Here's a preview:

Pre-Definite Site Development and Use Plan (PSDUP) Regulations

  1. Worthen Road Access – Kennealy must make any driveway improvements only if they are agreed upon by the Town Engineer.
  2. Stone walls facing Mass Ave must be a minimum of three feet high to decrease headlight glare coming from the parking area.
  3. Kennealy must provide $10,000 for nearby roadway infrastructure improvements at the request of the Town Engineer for safety measures.

Parking and Transportation Demand Management (PTDM) Plan Regulations

  1. Kennealy must be responsible for on-site parking and will discourage guests and employees from parking on nearby streets.
  2. The inn/restaurant's staff will advise guests when making reservations and checking in to park only in the on-site designated parking areas.
  3. Employees will be instructed and trained (and must sign a statement to the effect they understand) to park on Worthen Road in front of the Town athletic fields or in municipal parking and are not permitted to park on Worthen Road north of Mass Ave toward Bedford Street.
  4. The Board of Selectmen will determine the exact number of off-street parking spaces available for guests at the inn/restaurant. Furthermore, if complaints are registered in regards to off-street parking, Kennealy will address the issue immediately with the selectmen to remedy the situation.
  5. The Board of Selectmen reserve the power to restrict the number of seats and take any other action they deem necessary towards the inn/restaurant if parking cannot be controlled.
  6. Kennealy is responsible to submit a detailed, annual report and survey concerning parking and use of the inn/restuarant to the Board of Selectmen and the _Planning Board_ on July 1.

Ongoing Commitments Regulations

  1. Kennealy will maintain landscaping on site to ensure that sight lines at the corner of Mass Ave and Worthen Road are kept clear.
  2. The restaurant will be located inside the Dana Home stucture.
  3. Kennealy will provide $1,000 a year worth of in-town transit passes for the use of guests and employees for a period of three years.
  4. Kennealy will write a trash and recycling management plan to be approved by the selectmen.
  5. Kennealy will agree to limit regular truck access on the lot to be set by the _Zoning Board of Appeals_.
  6. All lighting must be fully shielded to avoid affecting abutters and exterior lighting will be turned off from 11 p.m. until dawn.
  7. Kennealy will acknowledge and not exceed any noise violations, especially focusing on keeping noise low between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Ambeint noise will be established by a series of measurements and Kennealy must also submit a testing protocol to the town and pay for a noise consultant to review the protocol.
  8. Kennealy will have “quiet hours” after 10 p.m. and make sure employees and guests are aware and standby this policy.
  9. Kennealy will provide, free of charge, the needed right of way agreement if the Town needs to rebuild Mass. Ave. and Worthen Road at any point in the future. The Town will reward Ms. Kennealy in this regard by replacing any landscaping or other psychical amenities disturbed by any future rebuilding.

What the Selectmen Had to Say

There was debate amongst the Selectmen if another legal document was needed. Specifically, Selectman Peter Kelley wasn't convinced this MOU would be enough.

Selectmen Chair Hank Manz hoped to quell, but at the same time, acknowledged Kelley's doubts. “We have been assured by Kennealy's council that this will be an on-going agreement, although some are still unconvinced of that," he said.

Selectman Norman Cohen backed up Manz's sentiments by assuring Kelley that the MOU will be legally binding.

Kelley pushed to have these commitments honored at or before the Town Meeting vote on Article 34, but no official motion was made.

Selectman George Burnell moved the discussion forward when he stated, “If there is one thing we have it's regulations for everything except breathing. … There will be changes in the future and I don't think it's our job to try and figure out every little thing that could happen. We should rely on our current rules and regulations, abide by the MOU, and move forward. I'm comfortable with what we have and we have protected both the Town and the proponent.”

Manz added, “In terms of what keeps a 54-seat resturant and inn morphing into something larger? I think we are protected against that as much as we can.”

Cohen ended the argument over the MOU, saying, "This is still just a minor document compared to the more detailed and forth-coming definitive site development and use plan, which will provide even more safeguards and as far as we understand it, it is not the intent of the applicant to go outside these rules.”

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