Town Meeting Rejects Effort to Weaken Demolition Delay
Article 27 panned as poorly written, inconsistent.
An effort to make it easier to bypass the Reading Historical Commission’s ability to delay the demolition of historical structures failed Thursday.
At the second day of Town Meeting, David Mancuso of Making Reading Better presented article 27, which he crafted with the intent to create a simple process to appeal the delay. As he described it, an impacted homeowner could write a letter, appear before the Board of Selectmen, argue his or her case and receive a verdict.
But the article’s opponents, including the historical commission and the bylaw committee, panned article 27 as poorly written, inaccurate and inconsistent with its intent.
In response, Town Meeting Member John Carpenter asked the bylaw committee for more specific criticism.
“It doesn’t get to what they’re trying to do,” said Philip Pacino, chairman of the bylaw committee. “If you want to do it word for word, we could be here for the rest of the night.”
Mark Cardono, chairman of the historical commission, said that the wording of the article could have been clarified if the commission had been included in the writing process.
Mancuso apologized for the wording, attributing it to his “poor writing skills,” but said that he ran the article past the town counsel, who declared it “legally acceptable.”
He added that he had invited the historical commission to participate in writing the bylaw, but they had declined.
Thursday’s effort followed an effort at April’s Town Meeting, which pared back the historical commission’s demolition delay authority. Previously, the commission had been able to delay demolition of a project for up to a year. An article passed at April’s town meeting reduced that to six months.