Council Seeks yet Another Opinion On Hermon St. Housing Project

Friday, April 24, 2015
By Transcript Staff

 WINTHROP – Developers of 60 Hermon St. were dealt another delay Tuesday night when the Town Council voted to seek yet another legal opinion, this time from the Attorney General.

Two weeks ago the council sought the opinion of the town counsel Kopelman & Paige after there was a question about the number of votes needed to approve a request for an SDOD (Special Development Overlay District.)

An SDOD is a particular zoning regulation in Winthrop which allows a change in zoning if the development encourages the reuse of a property and must meet certain criteria.

The debate over the voting procedure started when the council believed a two-thirds vote was needed to approve the SDOD. Then Councillor Paul Varone, who lives on Hermon Street, stated that a petition against the development asked for a 75 percent approval. Two weeks ago when the council voted the result was 5-2 with one recusal from Councilor Linda Calla, then Councilor Russ Sanford changed his vote making it 6-1.

 Last night only seven councilors attended the meeting. Council President Peter Gill said they had received an opinion from town counsel which verified that 75 percent of the vote was needed to pass the SDOD.

  Varone said the attorney did not look at case law. She rendered an opinion on the Town Council rules and Roberts Rules of Order. He asked if the Attorney General could be asked on how to proceed. Varone also wants to know if the “matter was properly disposed of and if it can be taken up again. Councilor Phil Boncore, who is a lawyer, agreed they should get her opinion.

Attorney Richard Lynds, who represents the developers, told the council he wanted to renew his objection he voiced at the last meeting. “I have a different opinion I’d like to ask the Attorney General, but I’ll save that for an appeallate issue.”

Ocean City Development LLC, purchased 60 Hermon St. last year and they applied for an SDOD zoning request. Neighbors of the building, which was home of the Winthrop Playmakers and prior to that it was a church, have not been thrilled about the development. Developers plan to turn the old church into a condo development with not more than five units. One abutter may go to Land Court over a lot line dispute.

            In other business: The council, at the urging of the Winthrop Scholarship Fund voted to rename the town scholarship as the Rona Mael Scholarship in honor of her work on the fund, her legacy as a home economics teacher at WHS for almost 20 years and a nurse at the Don Orione Home for almost 20 years. Mael, mother of Councilor Craig Mael, passed away Oct. 28, 2014.

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