LETTER: Former Town Councilor Worried About RMUD Proposal

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Letter to the Editor

I attended the council subcommittee meeting last week and came out upset. This is the most important issue this Council will face and three council members voted on amendments to present to the full nine member council for their vote at their regular council meeting. A recommendation for crucial amendments including zoning for this major development should not have been sent to a subcommittee as well-meaning the members are.

First, I want to address the manner in which the Chair Councillor Steve Corbett so rudely ruled Deborah Peterson out of order as soon as she was beginning to present her statement. This is unacceptable and never should be condoned. She attempted to make valid points about concerns that many of us share. What is appropriate for the site? What is the vision? Isn’t it premature to vote on amendments when so many basic and major questions are still not answered.

Citizens have the right to speak and make their points. No one should ever be humiliated and shut of because it may not be something those presiding do not want to hear.

It should be noted that many people walked out during the meeting.

What was the rush to get these amendments voted on by three members of the council at the end of the year? Never was there a subcommittee meeting held after the Town Council concluded their last meeting for the year.

This meeting was premature and should not have been held. What a more inappropriate time to choose out of the public eye. People are busy at the closing of Chanukah and many busy Christmas shopping and preparing for Christmas.

When I was serving on the Town Council, an important town wide issue was not referred to any sub committee. Public meetings were scheduled and held by the full nine member Council of the “Town Council Committee of the Whole and Finance”.

This is the most important vote facing the Council. What do we want Watertown to be? the amendments were vague that were proposed and voted. They contained words like “encourage,” “may” instead of shall in places – I was very concerned over the vote approving 130 ft buildings. It makes no public safety sense. I was appalled that the owner suggested to go to 145-153 ft. The Fire Department ladders reach up to a maximum of 100 ft. and that is only accomplished with exact positioning. It was no wonder that Dennis Duff commented: “Are you crazy?”

This is an important ordinance that should be taken up by nine councillors in a thoughtful, timely way. It could either enhance the quality of life of our citizens or make Watertown look like Rte. 9.

Also for informational purposes, People may not be aware. Since Watertown has adopted this city known as a town government we have not had a planner who lives in Watertown for 36 years.

I recall the Assistant Town Manager/Planner director Mr. Magoon’s remarks to me during the vote on the Pleasant Street comprehensive zoning plan in 2007. It allowed five story buildings (prohibiting all middle class housing – one, two , three and four family housing) When I expressed by opposition. ( I was the only councillor who voted NO). I advised Mr. Magoon that Watertown was already ninth in density out of 351 towns and cities and he responded: “SO WHAT!” I am sure he works hard but it does pose a question about the assistant manager/director of Planning coming from out of state and not living in Watertown. It is a value judgement, if someone never living in our community shares our values to preserve the fabric of our neighborhoods or prefers to just continue to support large structures.


Thank you for this opportunity,
Marilyn M. Petitto Devaney

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