Today residents received a pamphlet discussing a construction controversy in Chelmsford, which is backed by the prominent Eliopoulos family. The pamphlet is being circulated by Roland Van Liew. Van Liew is the President of Hands On Technology Transfer, Inc. (HOTT), which is based in Chelmsford. The Eliopoulos family, alleges HOTT, might be flying past obstacles in its efforts to build 15, 000 sq. ft. commercial building. The problem here is that the construction seems to be deflecting restrictions too quickly and effortlessly, which is what HOTT appears to be claiming.
The land in question is located behind the fire station in the center of town, and is protected by a decades-old provision which bars construction on the site. There have been several big plans for the plot, including updating and expanding the neighboring fire station. Since the land is now privately owned by the Eliopoulos family, the plans to fix the station at its current location aren’t possible.
According to HOTT’s circulation, Eliopoulos’s construction proposal “…unlawfully violates the letter and the spirit of a deed restriction on the property, and both of those points along with many others were made in opposition to the permits.” Van Liew’s critique is that the Board of Selectmen should have said no, and not yes, to the proposal given longstanding restrictions.
Van Liew does not appear to be the only resident with such concerns. Former Town Selectman Peter Lawlor and Michael Sargent have filed suit in Land Court claiming that the Eliopoulos proposal is a direct violation of the 1978 historical preservation restriction.
Getting to the heart of issue is tough because two seemingly contradictory interests are at play: preserve historical sites or expand the business community. This balancing act has been an imporant part of the town’s Master Plan for years, which is why some areas of the town appear more urban than others.