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Board makes exception for Bay Path

By Natasha Clark

Reminder Assistant Editor

LONGMEADOW The Longmeadow Select Board recently made an exception to bylaw 4-301, pertaining to tree belts, for Bay Path College.

At their Sept. 11 meeting, the Board voted 3-2 to allow Bay Path to create a 10-foot semi-circular paver section on town property abutting Hatch Library with the placement of a bench, and two 18-foot non-permanent planters adjacent on either side of the bench.

Finance Committee member Jerry Nolet reminded the Board if the bylaw by reading it at the beginning of the meeting during public comment.

"We're asking for permission to come about, maybe, 10 feet out on the lawn side here and complete this arch semi-circle across the lawn," said Russ Stratton, director of Buildings and Grounds Maintenance for Bay Path, as he hoisted up a photograph of the proposed location.

Stratton said Bay Path will maintain the sidewalk and if approved, complete the proposed portion by the end of the fall season.

"I always felt it was our option if we wanted to allow something on the tree belt. It's very rare that we do," Select Board member Hal Haberman explained. "I think that what you've proposed here makes sense, it looks good. Bay Path is a tremendous asset to the community ... And I personally feel this is an exception that I'm willing to go along with."

Board member Kathleen Grady said the issue was not about Bay Path, but the policy in Longmeadow. She noted that the Board has turned down other residents' requests for structures on their tree belt, and that they're in court proceedings involving another instance.

Board member Paul Santaniello reiterated her sentiments.

"I think its reprehensible to say to a town resident 'take down your structure because we don't agree with it or we don't like it,' to be in court with another town resident over their structure and their tree belt, and just say 'well Bay Path is a good neighbor and they've been great for the town.' That has nothing to do with it," Santaniello said. "Mr. Batchelder could be a great neighbor and great to his neighbors and people in town. It's a violation of the bylaw ... I can't believe the double standard we're entertaining here."

Haberman said that Bay Path came to the town and asked for permission.

"The one's you're talking about did it without permission," he added.

Select Board Chair Brian Ashe said that most residential requests benefited the homeowners, and that Bay Path's proposal is on a public street and benefits the general public.