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10 Takeaways From the July 19 Select Board Meeting

The Select Board convened last night without chair Todd Johnson. Vice-chair James Mackey stepped in to run the meeting.

Al Fresca’s request to add a 12’ x 10’ alcohol cooler was approved unanimously without public comment. The request is part of an ongoing project to expand the Al Fresca’s Market into the vacant, adjacent Abuts Liquors and use the 7,200 sf of space to offer a selection of beers and wines to accompany the restaurant’s available takeaway options. 

Following their successful appearance before the Planning Board, Al and Michelle Salas, owners of the new Eco Auto dealership, came before the Select Board to request a used-car-dealer license.

“We are looking to bring electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles retailed right at that location, alternative fuel vehicles, charging stations as well,” said Al Salas. “Also servicing electric and hybrid vehicles.”

He said the business expects to add 27 jobs and that on-site charging stations will be available for all electric vehicles. 

“We’re not limited as to the brand,” said Salas. “We’re more focused on the technology and driving that green energy forward.”

The license was approved unanimously.

With no residents rising to speak, the Board moved on to the Tewksbury Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisory Committee, which gained two new members with the appointment of TMHS students Kimsan Nguyen, younger sibling of former member Maisan Nguyen, and Harshit Pal, who also served on the recent Tewksbury Public Schools superintendent search committee. 

“I was pleased to meet them both last month when they came to the community market to our DEI booth, shared with the Front Line Initiative,” said Board member Jayne Wellman, who is also chair of the TDEIAC. “They were really excited, enthusiastic, very interested in the committee, and I think they’re gonna bring a lot of energy, so I’m very excited for this appointment.”

Town manager Richard Montuori formally recommended that this year’s Special Town Meeting be held on Tuesday, Oct. 4 at 7 p.m. at Tewksbury Memorial High School. Montuori also advised the Board to open the warrant on Wednesday, July 20, and close it at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 19.

Note that citizen-submitted articles for all special town meetings require 100 signatures from registered voters compared with 10 for annual town meetings. Articles must be in the approved format and reviewed by town counsel to ensure they conform with state laws and town bylaws. The town clerk can advise interested residents on deadlines and provide examples.

Montuori also informed the Board that Main St. Liquors will appeal to the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission the nine-day license suspension imposed by the Board last month. That hearing will be held via videoconference on Monday, Sept. 26. He recommended that the Board suspend the suspension due to begin on July 28 until after the ABCC makes its ruling. 

TPD chief Ryan Columbus and town counsel Kevin Feeley will attend the hearing and provide the information that the Select Board used to make its determination. 

Board member Mark Kratman expressed surprise that the owners had appealed.

“When we brought them in front of us, they came in front and didn’t argue the point, they actually admitted to things,” said Kratman.

Board member Jay Kelly echoed that sentiment and pointed out that the business has a right to appeal. 

“We take this very seriously,” said Mackey. “Some people felt we may have been a little lenient, but this is not going away. It’s basically being held until the ABCC finishes their proceedings. It will come back, and then we will make a determination based on feedback from the ABCC’s decision.” 

The Board voted unanimously to hold the suspension in abeyance until the ABCC rules.

Help Wanted

Montuori stated that the Planning Board voted at its Monday meeting to request that the opening created by Eric Ryder’s resignation be filled by a joint meeting of the two boards. The application will be posted tomorrow with a deadline of Friday, July 29 at 4:30 p.m. 

“Once we receive all of the applications, we will disseminate them to the Selectmen and the planning board for review and for future interviews at a date chosen by both boards,” said Montuori.

Kratman thanked Ryder for his service to the community and noted that the resignation was the result of a conflict at his job. 

In addition, at the next meeting, the Select Board will shift the Planning Board seat on the Elementary School Building Committee to a resident seat and appoint Ryder, in accordance with a vote by the Planning Board.

See what else happened at this week’s Planning Board meeting.

Under committee reports, Wellman reported that the TDEIAC will meet on Tuesday, July 26 and welcome community/economic development planner Alexandra Lowder to walk through the results of the recent resident survey. She also congratulated new Eagle Scouts Cyrus Rich, David Johnson, Alek Cranston and Justin Flynn, who took part in a Court of Honor on Sunday.

As he did at the last Select Board meeting, Kelly brought up the unpermitted contractor yard at the end of South St. and stated that the town of Andover seems to be giving abutters the runaround. He asked the town manager to draft a letter on behalf of the Board to formally request a meeting with Andover officials.

The owner of the yard, Matthew Strong of Forever Endeavor, an LLC registered at 4 Rennie Dr., Andover, is currently in court and resisting the Andover Zoning Board of Appeals’ cease and desist order.

“They’re not getting any answers,” said Kelly. “They’re just going back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, and we’re not really making much headway. I’m extremely disappointed in the response of the elected officials and Andover.”

Wellman asked for the contractor yard to be on the agenda for the August 9 meeting so that residents may attend, weigh in on the letter and receive any information Montouri is able to gather from Andover. 

She also asked for a future agenda item to address any warrant articles that the Select Board may wish to bring forward.

Mackey shared that the Board will convene to set goals and objectives in the near future, in addition to a follow-on meeting to review applications for committee appointments.

Lorna is a U.S. Army veteran and 25-year resident of Tewksbury who has written for organizations ranging from the DIA to InformationWeek to a free weekly in New London that sent her to interview the pastry chef at Foxwoods.

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