Sustainable Economy Committee Meeting

Tuesday, July 6, 2021, 1:15 pm until 2:30 pm
Zoom
A meeting of the Sustainable Economy Committee

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Meeting ID: 815 0442 1387

Dial in: 929 205 6099

Meeting ID: 815 0442 1387

Agenda

  1. Vote to approve minutes from June 8 Revenue Committee meeting
  2. New member outreach
  3. Planning for Livability Listening Sessions
  4. Discuss directions for research and case studies
  5. Announcements & Open discussion

In attendance: Susan M., Susan L., Andy, Pat

Minutes approved.

New Member: Process, by the middle of July we submit a list to the SB for new members

Susan L, will come to meetings over the summer, when she can, but can’t come every time. Don Southwick has said no, Don Robinson has pretty much said no, but will try him again. Having members with his kind of background would be good. Seth from Wright Builders, (was interested) Dan was going to check with him, and reach out to Cinda Jones’ brother to see if they could be an adjunct (Susan L. he lives on Lake Wyola, not Leverett)

Susan L: Tim and I were supposed to speak with Kittredge if possible

Susan M. Seth was invited to the cancelled meeting. Have the potential for four new people; we have five people as of now.

Susan L: anyone come forward from the Mill Project that might be interested? Circle back around with some of the people we are trying to get on the committee; we could individually get some folks who have ideas who might not come twice a month.

Susan M; Seth does have experience with developers. This committee could be the go-to coordinating body that would have prevented the kind of brush off the new owner across from the sawmill feels they got. (Cross pollination); we have a group that is working on this kind of development; in order for us to become that go-to body in the town, we need to have connection to other boards and expertise.

Andy: One of the things about sustainable economy committee is not a sustainable “development” committee; worried about pushing projects in that vein of expertise. I don’t think those mean building stuff which are the most expensive and most risky. We have the ability to be flexible. And if we need that expertise, we can get them. One of the things I talked to Tim about: non-infrastructure ways to bring in revenue like events, things that can be done without capital expenses.

Susan L: how does that work?

Andy: you can tax an event and sales, I’d like to look into it more. For example, craft show and fairs that temporarily take up space in a town. Those events bring in thousands of people esp if aligned with other events (parents’ weekend at UMass). It could net $100,000 for the people, and Leverett takes a cut. It can be repeated.

Susan L: there is a sales tax, does not come down to Leverett

Andy: yes but Leverett can take money from the events…

Susan M: we asked Jason about what kind of taxes are available to town (marijuana= 3%) but generally it’s limited. Personal property tax (businesses) that brings in a few hundred thousand dollars. We should investigate that more (more value in town than is being reported).

Andy: [interested in] other ways to build an economy in Leverett, besides development.

Susan L.: Boxborough study had interesting ideas, like some kind of farming (real estate and development based) (referring Andy to check that out).

Susan M: meeting in Sept to have a meeting with the boards, look at all the town finances, what are the factors that we look at to make projections; make model that would help us project better.

Andy: Mill building that tanked because onerous regulations?

Susan M: I’m not sure, I think we should investigate.

Item from Susan M.

7/4/21 Economic Development story re Kirley property/ south side of the river - barn and office:

Gail Hornstein (lives PT in Leverett with partner Carole DeSanti on Montague Road)’s brother, David, Architect/Designer/Builder and wife Joan Hornstein (Sudbury) bought the property with the intent of starting a school for designer/builder training. They met resistance in Leverett at every turn (engineers, Con Com, Board of Health? Planning?) – “no additional structures, no combination septic for barn and office, etc.” (“residential” and “commercial” – totally bogus nomenclature as nothing is zoned “commercial” on that property anyway and the “residential” was originally built as an office.) The use he was proposing was innovative and would have brought ideas and new activity to town. No discussion between boards. This would have been an appropriate case for the Rev-Sue/Com to help coordinate w/ other boards to make it happen. (2 Kirley properties, one is the historic mill on N side of river; they want to donate it to the town, town wants advice on how to do it). This property is the south side of the river. He has a 3-year lease with shingle making company to use both buildings. Maybe in 3 years he’ll still be willing to do something.

Been hearing floodplain zoning bylaw about Kirley property.

(Larry LeClaire put the septic in; Presby septic). Tie the building and barn together have other structures, and were told ‘no’ saying it was commercial property; so much confusion.

Susan L: Communities have floated bonds to revitalize our historic assets (get town to take the properties). Many historic preservation projects have started that way. Bonds and private capital. New Harmony in Indiana (movie)

We could do things like that could attract soft-commercial and have several events around these. We need the will of the community.

Andy: septic is a big hold up for so many things; competing interests in the town; small homes vs wealthier homes.

Susan M: livability study, talk about what the issues are for them and work to find a common ground. Nobody has to stay in the place where they thought septic tanks have to be where they were 30 years ago. It’s an educational process that has to happen and someone has to take it on.

Susan L. what is the revenue derived from the shingle business?

Susan M: how do we want to explore what happened there; we’ll have to do it in person.

Susan L.: Minutes must be there on all the boards. Find out from David, the meetings he attended, and look at the minutes.

Pat: how do we get buy in~ through focus groups, and discussions

Andy: we get buy in when things manifest. People get excited about that.

Susan L: any development project should come through this committee first. IF we have a Master Plan, all the committees will be involved; need to talk with all the committees to get buy in. MP will do some of this but not sure it will do all of it.

Susan M: Tom’s idea was all the boards and committees participating as official participants so it’s not a planning board exercise?

Family Museum: building next to it used to be an Inn, then a trailer, derelict cars, take the museum, the Inn, retore it as an Inn, and the trailer make it a place to rent out canoes; could have town hall, church, post office ~ a whole town center.

Susan M: wide variety of viewpoints on this committee. Somebody who grew up in town would have a different opinion and perspective (perhaps).

Susan L: depend on how many years they have lived here; some are for reasonable development and some aren’t. Laurel Hill brings in $250,000 in tax revenue; can barely see the houses. It took years to get the project through. It doesn’t change the character of Leverett visually.

Andy: was the other part of the meeting minutes talking about police reform?

Susan: we are trying to find the research and experts to help people make better decisions; to find the actual numbers (e.g. school percent of our budget).

Andy: a lot of stigmas and misunderstandings about new development.

Next Steps: look at minutes of different boards that might have been involved in that property issue (Susan M can try to find out from David which he met with).

Susan L; send out an email to decide to meet in two weeks?

We can always add someone later; make sure Dan, Tim, and Susan L are aware that we have a deadline.

They don’t have to come to a meeting but they need to let us (Tim and Pat) know.

If we have a good list and new appointees we should meet.

Conducting a Focus Group/ questions we could ask

Dan:

  • would you utilize PVTA if Leverett had service?

  • if you had the ability to RE zone your property for multifamily or ADU would you? Encourage in-fill development?

  • if Leverett pond were more accessible (parking, sidewalks) would you utilize it more?

Pat

  • What sort of outdoor amenities would like more access to (park, camping, etc.)

  • How do you see Leverett addressing Affordable Housing needs? (if any)

  • What zoning changes would you like to see?

  • How would you balance the various desires for what Leverett should look like and the need for tax revenue: Open space, more development etc.

Posted to: Revenue Committee