The Winchendon Courier
Serving the community since 1878 ~ A By Light Unseen Media publication
Week of October 10 to October 17, 2019
What makes Winchendon what it is...How we're making Winchendon even better

Winchendon Fall Town Meeting ~ October 28, 2019, 7:00 p.m.
Murdock Middle/High School Auditorium. 3 Memorial Dr.

Warrant (PDF)
Presentation (PDF)
Town Manager's Video Presentation on Articles

Low turnout at Planning Board Public Hearing about STM Zoning articles

The Winchendon Planning Board held a Public Hearing on Tuesday, October 8 for all residents seeking more information about the four zoning articles on the warrant for the Fall Special Town Meeting scheduled for October 28. Only a handful of residents attended as the Planning Board discussed the articles and voted on their recommendations.

Article 17, if passed, will eliminate the Golf Overlay District. This overlay district was established in the 1980s when golf and golf courses were trendy and the Planning Board had several proposals. None of them were constructed and much of the land within the overlay district is now part of a solar farm. The Golf Overlay District is now obsolete.

There were no questions from the public, and the Planning Board voted 5-0 to recommend the article to Town Meeting.

Article 18, if passed, will create a "Lake Monomonac Overlay District" which includes all developed properties around Lake Monomonac, but does not include most undeveloped lots. This overlay district was proposed in response to the disproportionate number of petitions for variances on setbacks from lake property owners. The lake is in the R-40 (Rural Suburban Residential) zone but most of the developed lots are smaller than the current minimum square footage for that zone, having initially been summer cottages. This means that the setbacks defined for R-40 prohibit many property owners from making any updates or changes to their property (for example, building a small storage shed) without a variance.

The Lake Monomonac Overlay District will define setbacks for the district to correspond with setback minimums for the R-10 (Neighborhood Residential) district, which has similar size lots. Minimum setback from the front will be 20 feet (instead of 40 feet); on the side, 10 feet (instead of 25 feet); and in back, 20 feet (instead of 50 feet). (See Town of Winchendon Zoning Bylaws (PDF), pages 86-7 for a table of allowances for zones.) No other regulations are impacted except setback allowances. Commercial properties within the district will need to undergo a site review for any proposed projects.

During the discussion, Planning Board member Burt Gould asked if anyone was present from the Winchendon Springs Lake Association, to speak for Lake Monomonac property owners. No one so identified themselves.

The Planning Board voted 3-1 with one abstention to recommend Article 18 to Town Meeting. The dissenting vote was cast by Burt Gould. The Courier asked Gould after the meeting why he voted no. Gould stated that it didn't seem correct to establish the overlay district without input from the Winchendon Springs Lake Association. He wondered if sufficient effort had been made to inform them of the proposed change.

Article 19, if passed, will change the current procedure for special permits. As of now, people have to go to the Zoning Board of Appeals for a special permit, which then has to be approved by the Planning Board. This change will streamline the process and eliminate the redundancy of having to deal with two Town Boards for the same thing. The ZBA will still deal with variances.

The Planning Board voted 5-0 to recommend this article to Town Meeting.

Article 20, if passed, will adjust the Adult Use/Medical Marijuana Retail Overlay District (which has several non-contiguous parts scattered around town) to eliminate the "E. Stuffin' Things" overlay and instead extend the "C.Hillview Business Park/Rte 140" overlay to the intersection of Rte 140 and Rte 12. The "E. Stuffin' Things" area is situated on Rte 202 next to the Lake Dennison Recreation Area. The extended Rte 140 overlay includes an established commercial area more favorable for marijuana-related businesses than some other parts of town.

There were no questions from the public. The Planning Board voted 4-0 with one abstention to recommend this article to Town Meeting.

Complete information about these articles, with maps, can be found at the links at the top of this page. Zoning articles require a two-thirds vote to pass.

Concern about glare from solar array brought before Planning Board

Winchendon resident Anthony Kurylo came before the Planning Board on October 8 to discuss his concerns about sun glare from the Lincoln Avenue Solar Project adversely affecting his property.

Kurylo lives on Northern Heights Drive. His 25 acre property is under state stewardship as protected forest land and shares about 1,180 feet of boundary with the solar farm property.

Kurylo told the Planning Board that several weeks ago he began noticing a brilliant glare of reflected light from the setting sun striking the solar panels in the late afternoon. He described the glare as equivalent to the sun itself and bright enough to make parts of his home, 700 feet due east of the solar array, uncomfortable. He expressed concern about his property values, and about the environmental impact of amplified light. Kurylo stated that he was not notified as an abutter of the planned solar farm. He asks that the developers be required take steps to mitigate the glare, such as a barrier, screen, landscaping, or by other means.

John Perry, from Dynamic Energy, the developers of the solar farm, addressed Kurylo's concerns. Perry was contacted by Kurylo on September 17 and visited his property to assess the situation. Perry showed charts suggesting that the glare will only impact Kurylo's home at certain times of the year due to the cycle of the sun's elevation and sunset location through the seasons.

After some discussion, Planning Board member Burt Gould stated that the board shouldn't make any decisions without seeing the situation for themselves. The board agreed to visit Kurylo's property on the soonest possible sunny day for a direct evaluation of the solar glare and what might need to be done about it.

Toy Town FYIs

Monday, October 14: Town Hall, and all non-essential town offices, will be closed for the holiday.

Tuesday, October 15: The annual draw-down of Lake Monomomac will begin and will continue until it reaches the new winter draw down level of 3 feet on or around December 1st. The drop in the water level during the winter months allows property owners to do maintenance to their waterfront, including docks, walls, and beaches. It also helps with the weed control.

Be aware that the lower level increases the danger of hitting submerged rocks, trees or other hidden obstacles. Extreme caution should be taken by boat owners if you are planning to get in some late fall boating or fishing.

Thursday, October 31: Winchendon Trick-or-Treating, 5:30-7:30 p.m.

EPA releases fact sheet about Lincoln Avenue Extension demolition project

As a follow-up to last week's article about the demolition of the derelict properties on Lincoln Avenue Extension, the Courier would like to bring to readers' attention this fact sheet from the EPA:

Former White Mountain Freezer Site, Winchendon, MA (PDF).

This informative document explains in detail what is being done and how environmental hazards are being controlled. It includes complete contact information for anyone who has questions and concerns about the project.

The fact sheet also clarifies that the former Alaska Freezer building was abandoned in 1994.

Heads-Up for Winchendon Residents: Unauthorized Solicitors

On October 3, Town Hall put out this PSA:

"The Town Manager’s Office recently received a complaint about a door to door salesman soliciting residents to move to a different electric supplier instead of National Grid or Town’s Community Choice Power Supplier Dynegy Energy Services. This individuals name is Jared and does not have a solicitation permit from the town. He has been told he needs one but doesn’t seem interested in obtaining the necessary permit. If he comes to your door please excuse yourself and call Winchendon Police Dispatch at (978) 297-1212."

On October 8, the Town of Winchendon provided additional important information for residents.

"Please note the following companies that are licensed to solicit in town; Vivint Solar, Edward Jones, Solar on Earth, LGCY Power/SUNRUN Partner, and Trinity Solar.

"Each company has ONE licensed individual who has been permitted by the Board of Selectmen to go door to door. According to our records, none of the permitted businesses have more than one solicitor permitted.

"Solicitors are asked to notify the Police each day of their location, and should be carrying both their Town and State permits.

If you come across what you may believe is an unlicensed solicitor, please contact the Winchendon Police at 978-297-1212."

The Winchendon Water Department is flushing hydrants starting October 9th and continuing through the end of the month.

Tap water may be discolored for a day or two, but it will clear up.

We appreciate your patience in this matter.

Stone-Ladeau Funeral Home

Winchendon Subway