The Planning and Zoning Commission has been debating the merits of a proposed subdivision off of Higgins Road for the last several weeks, but on June 13, discussion focused, at least initially, on a personal interaction between a Commissioner and a member of the development group.
The proposal, submitted by 687 South Main St. LLC, calls for a six-unit condominium complex to be built on corner of Higgins Road and Route 10. The six units would all be situated in one building, with garages provided for each unit for residents to park their vehicles, and additional parking lot spots available on the west side of the property.
However, before the public hearing regarding the development commenced on Monday, June 13, Commissioner Matt Bowman demanded an apology from a member of the Ricci family, who is seeking approval for the project.
“Unfortunately, a few weeks ago at the Notch Store, I ran into Mr. John Ricci,” Bowman explained. “I’ve known John most of my life and I said, ‘Hello,’ and he proceeded to give me the finger.”
Bowman argued that Ricci’s actions resulted in intimidation of an elected official.
“I don’t appreciate it,” Bowman argued. “I certainly don’t appreciate it at a place of business in public, and I would appreciate an apology.”
Ricci, who was in attendance, went to the podium to offer Bowman an apology.
“I was having that kind of day,” Ricci reflected. “It wasn’t (anything) personal, it was just that kind of day ... Things weren’t going quite right on a bunch of other jobs. We have a lot of history. We’ve helped each other a lot. I sold your son a lot for a great price many moons ago. We’ve always been friends.”
Bowman accepted Ricci’s apology and later recused himself from the hearing.
“My job as an elected official is to ask questions,” Bowman said, before stepping away from the dais. “Sometimes the questions are tough and sometimes they’re not, but that is what I was elected to do. I would ask the same of you or anyone else when I have a question, I expect to ask that question and I expect a respectful answer.”
Jonathan Ricci explained that, since the May 27 public hearing, he has made changes to the plans to address some of the Commission’s concerns. To alleviate parking issues, there will now be no parking allowed in front of the garages for the first two units, which are closest to the entryway from Higgins Road. The parking lot width size has also been increased to accommodate large trucks, and there will be no planters obstructing sightlines.
Town Engineer Marek Kement said many of his questions were addressed by the applicant. However, he was unable to review comments specific to drainage because the applicant did not submit paperwork until the evening of the public hearing.
Kement added that he still had a safety concern regarding the access drive for the first unit. While the applicant added a no-obstruction area there to increase visibility, Kement is concerned there will still be issues.
“It’s just my opinion that it still causes a safety concern, in my mind, so I wanted to bring that to your attention,” Kement said.
Jonathan Ricci, however, believes part of the responsibility will fall on the people who live there.
“It’s only six units,” he said. “It’s not a lot of traffic. We just have to be responsible drivers.”
The public hearing was held open until the Commission’s June 27 meeting.