On August 23rd, the Chelmsford Board of Selectman (BoS) held a town meeting to vote on the construction proposal for 9 North Road and whether it violated a preservation restriction. Though the selectmen seemed contemplative throughout the meeting, their composure appeared lost after the Epsilon’s lawyer forewarned of a lawsuit should the BoS repeal their permit.
What makes this project so controversial is due to a preservation restriction that was created in 1978. The Epsilon group, which represents the Eliopoulos family, claims that restriction doesn’t bar all construction. The group also claims that the intentions of the restriction and the 1978 BoS are not only immaterial, but inapplicable to the project. Specifically, the Epsilon group focuses its argument on Articles 2 and 6 of the restriction. These sections require that any construction be “barnlike” in appearance, that all construction not exceed 55% of the total land area, and that the owners have a limited right to develop the land, respectively.
Such bold statements were probably a smack in the face for former selectman, John W. Carson. Carson, who was on the BoS in 1978, adamantly spoke out against the project at the meeting. According to Carson, he and the other two surviving selectman that signed the restriction crafted the measure in order to preserve the open land as a public park. Carson’s argument relies on Articles 5, 7 and 8 of the restriction. The sections maintain that the land is to be maintained as a park, that all structures are to be small, and that all buildings must match the architecture of the Emerson barn.
The board’s 2 to 1 vote in favor of the project was met with resounding outrage from the dozens of citizens that attended the meeting. Though there was support for the construction, it seemed to have been overwhelmed by the public’s opposition.
Probably the most perplexing issue that was mentioned was transparency, which has come up repeatedly since the beginning of the race. This is one topic that isn’t as straightforward as it seems.
The disagreement started back in May when Donoghue challenged Doherty to post a list of donors on his website. Though it is hard to tell precisely when each candidate posted these lists, both campaigns seem to claiming that they posted their list first. In fact, today the Doherty campaign issued a press release applauding the Donoghue campaign for listing their donors online.
What could be of interest to the voters is not when the lists were posted, but from where the donations originated. Donoghue’s list, which can be linked to at the top of her home page, is nine pages long and appears to list over 350 donors. Of the listed donations, all which look to be individual contributions, a fair amount come from outside the district. The list that Doherty posted, which can be found on his contributions page, looks to contain over 300 individual donations. Like Donoghue, he too is receiving donations from outside the district.
In the end, this is going to be a race about nuances. Both candidates have similar stances on the issues, but their approach to the topics are somewhat different. If voters want a candidate to take a big leadership role, then the district could lead towards Donoghue. Or the district could lean more towards Doherty if voters want a highly collaborative candidate.
In the race for the 1st Middlesex district, Chris Doherty (D-Lowell) and Eileen Donoghue (D-Lowell) will face off in their first debate tonight.
The debate is scheduled to take place today in Lowell. It is to be aired on radio station 980 AM from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm. Be sure to tune in as it is bound to get very interesting very quickly.
Both candidates have slightly different stances on the issues, so tonight will be the first chance for voters to discover what makes each candidate unique. So far, both are courting small business owners in an effort to win their vote. To that end, Doherty would likely support measures that would allow small businesses to delay payment of their filing fees in order to help them get off the ground. Donoghue is slightly more focused on helping local businesses by working with small businesses to drive down their costs associated with health insurance. In this sense, Doherty seems to follow more of a hands off approach (he seems to prefer small businesses work together on their own to increase competition), whereas Donoghue appears to take a more proactive role.
Tomorrow night will see the Chris Doherty campaign hold a large fundraiser in Lowell in order to keep drumming up support for the candidate. As the days wind down to September 14th, the state’s primary, Chris Doherty’s campaign is promoting seemingly endless events.
The fundraiser is to take place in downtown Lowell at Hookslide Kelly’s on Merrimack Street from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm.
Of the confirmed guest list, many appear to have some connection to the University of Massachusetts Lowell. The university, which is also known as UMASS Lowell or ULowell, is one of Doherty’s (D-Lowell) alma maters. He has also graduated from Suffolk Law School.
Though Doherty enjoys widespread support, many of his supporters are from the university. Several months ago students from ULowell organized a rally for Doherty at Brew’d Awakening, a local coffee shop. Support for Doherty overwhelmed the small business as more than 100 people, mostly students, crowded inside and lined the street in order to speak with the candidate.
The event is open to the voters living within the 1st Middlesex district. For those who are interested in attending, the campaign requests be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or to call 978-656-9982.
As a prosecutor, Doherty helped to create what he calls a Pre-Complaint Juvenile Diversion Program for Middlesex country. The program helps minors, “…to understand the consequences of their actions, learn from their mistakes, lessen the propensity to commit future crimes and protect them from having a criminal record.” Doherty would likely expand the program statewide if elected.
“Sexting” is a phenomenon where sexually provocative images are sent via picture messages on cell phones. In Massachusetts, the law allows minors to be tried under the child pornography statutes. If charged, then minors could be required to register as a sex offender indefinitely. Recognizing the complexity of this issue, voters could expect Doherty to favor legislation to protect minors from registering as offenders.
A third aspect of his policy could streamline the deportation of illegal immigrants only in situations where major felonies and drug trafficking offenses have taken place. Having read his policy, Doherty appears to favor legislation that would deport illegal immigrants if they’re suspected of having trafficked drugs or committed serious crimes.
Though he released this policy today, the local authorities are already very familiar with Doherty. The police associations in Westford, Tyngsborough and Lowell have all endorsed him for the September 14th primary. Doherty is also favored by the Massachusetts Teachers Association, which is one of the largest unions in the state as it represents over 150, 000 members.