Dear Honorable Town Councillors and fellow Planning Board members:
I am writing to you all today in regards to some comments that I made at the July 14th Planning Board meeting, which have apparently caused some consternation amongst several members of the Watertown community at large, and for which I would like to set the record straight:
First of all, I would like to be absolutely clear on the fact that I take public feedback on proposed projects very seriously — in fact, on several occasions during Planning Board meetings, I have expressed my preference to hear comments from the public BEFORE board members add their thoughts and questions, because these comments often influence my own. I always make every effort to read all of the letters and e-mails that are forwarded to us by Planning Staff, even when they are “form letters” where only the author’s name and address are altered, but the text is otherwise identical. My objection, in this case, was to the expectation of having to read dozens of messages that arrived in my Inbox on the afternoon of the meeting, within hours of the meeting start time, which is why I expressed my strong preference to have some sort of “cut-off” time for e-mailed public comments, prior to the meeting. I have no objection whatsoever to hearing any and all public comments, either in person or read into the record from e-mails, live at the hearing.
As for the letter from 3 members of the WE3C that I read aloud at the meeting, my intent in reading that particular letter was to voice my frustration which was exacerbated by a comment made by a community member on the Zoom call, and for that I apologize to all of you and to the community at large — I realize that, as a member of this board, I need to have a “thicker skin” when it comes to situations like these.
In summary, I can assure you that I take my role as a Planning Board member quite seriously, and always value the feedback of members of the public, so long as it is expressed in a respectful manner. I am proud and honored to represent my community on this board, and I hope that people have found my decisions to be fair and thoughtfully considered, even if they do not necessarily agree with the outcomes.
Jason D. Cohen
Watertown Planning Board
Vice-Chair, Community Preservation Committee