Monday, May 09, 2016

Head of Democratic town committee sends Sarah Gardner's Planning Board candidate pitch to all members

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. -- The chairman of the Williamstown Democratic Committee has forward to all committee-members a campaign statement from Sarah Gardner, who is running for a Planning Board seat.  In his note, Jim Mahon said that Gardner was the only candidate for the board who is a committee member.  He said his forwarding of her message "does not constitute an endorsement -- it is better described as a benefit of membership."
From: Jim Mahon <>
Date: May 8, 2016 at 10:42:51 PM EDT

Subject: Sarah Gardner's candidacy for Planning Board 
Dear WDTC members,
    First, town elections are this Tuesday, May 10.   
    Second, Sarah Gardner sent along the message below about her candidacy for Planning Board.  She was not able to attend the forum held by the Greylock Independent about a month ago, though she did submit the video you can see at the link near the end of her message.  Sarah has been a Town Committee member for several years, and in fact I think she's the only member of the committee running for town office this Tuesday.  This does not constitute an endorsement--it is better described as a benefit of membership.
. . . .

Thanks and best wishes,

-------- Forwarded Message --------
Subject: Sarah Gardner Planning Board Election: For Dem Committee List
Date: Sat, 7 May 2016 15:30:29 -0400
From: Gardner, Sarah <>
To: James Mahon <>
CC: Paula Consolini <>

Hi Jim, 
Here is my letter about the Planning Board election and my video statement. I hope you could send this to the Democratic Committee list. 
Thank you,
Dear Fellow Williamstown Residents, 
I'm writing to you about my campaign for the Planning Board to ask for your help.  I'm running for the 5-year seat and the vote is Tuesday, May 10. This is a hotly contested election, the differences between us are stark, and there is a concerted effort to make sure I do not win.  So I really need your help and support right now. All I'm asking is that you read this, and if you support me please forward it off to your circle with a note from you. There is a digital flyer attached.  
I'm always willing to stick my neck out if that's what it takes to get things done.  I'm hoping you will stick up for me now.
If you will be out of town Tuesday, you may vote at town hall on Monday.  If you don't vote in Williamstown, please send this along to friends who do. Today (Saturday), would be a great time to write endorsement Letters to the Editor to iBerkshires here:  and to The Berkshire Eagle here:
Like us and see more info on Facebook here:
I am running for the Planning Board (5 year term).
I am supporting Anne Hogeland for Planning Board (2 year term).
I am also supporting Cynthia Payne for Select Board.
I'm running for re-election to the Planning Board because I care about Williamstown and I'm committed to public service. On the Planning Board, I work to foster economic development while maintaining my commitment to open space and agriculture. The principles of Smart Growth guide my approach to planning.

I bring to the Planning Board a technical knowledge of zoning and land-use laws, an appreciation of differing perspectives, and a vision for the town's future. I also bring a passion; there's nothing I'd rather do than research creative approaches to town planning.

I believe good planning involves the public. The more perspectives we hear, the better the plans will be. I listen to all sides of an issue and I try to find solutions that will benefit Williamstown in the long-term. Please vote to re-elect me to the Planning Board. I look forward to working with you to keep Williamstown a safe and progressive place to live, work and visit.
Local, County & State Service:  Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, Williamstown Master Plan Committee, Community Preservation Committee, Planning Board, Conservation Commission, Agricultural Commission,
Farmers Market Committee, COOL Committee, Massachusetts Environmental Trust.
Civic Involvement:  I've served as board member of the Berkshire Bike Path Committee, Berkshire Grown, Williamstown Farmers Market Committee & the Hoosic River Watershed Association.
Professional Background: New Jersey Office of State Planning, New York City Recycling Program, City University of New York, Environmental Advocates.
Planning in Williamstown: I've helped initiate several planning projects in town: rezoning and redeveloping the Cable Mill, rezoning the Photech site, developing the Williamstown - North Adams bike path, advocating to enact the Community Preservation Act, working to pass the Right to Farm bylaw, and I was a leader of the "Keep Berkshire Farming" food system study.
17-year resident:  I've raised my 3 children in Williamstown and teach environmental planning at Williams College where I am the associate director of the Center for Environmental Studies. I recently produced the documentary filmForgotten Farms, that explores class divides in our farm and food communities. It premieres at the Berkshire International Film Festival in June.  I'm a graduate of Smith College, I hold a Masters in Public Administration from Columbia University and a Ph.D. in Political Science from the City University of New York.
This election is happening while our town is in conflict over the Waubeeka development proposals. Mike Deep has asked the board to rezone the 203-acre golf course for commercial use so he can build a resort there. Everyone on the board supported the golf course and everyone supported the idea of a "country inn," as Deep presented it. We worked hard to reach consensus around a bylaw that would allow him to build a development, but there was complete disagreement about what size development would be appropriate. It's a beautiful and historic entrance to town.  My instinct was to proceed with great caution but I support the golf course and I would support a country inn at Waubeeka if it would help make it viable.  The process was fraught and Deep kept changing the size and nature of the project:  In January it allowed for timeshares on 40 acres; In February we voted to table the issue so that the developer could provide more specifics. The developer chose to by-pass the planning board with a citizens' petition. The citizens petition has been amended multiple times. The most recent version from the developer is for a 120-unit hotel plus a clubhouse, 200-seat banquet facility etc.
This week the board passed an amendment for vote at Town Meeting, by a 3-2 vote, for a 50,000 - 60,000 sq.ft. development (the Orchards Hotel is 50,000 sq.ft.) that includes 67-107 acres in a conservation restriction.  I, and two fellow board members (Liz McGowan and Ann McCallum), felt this was a fair compromise.  But the 2 board members who voted against this bylaw wanted to allow Deep to develop a much larger 10-acre resort that would include a 120 unit hotel, which is the size that chain hotels require.  I feel this was too large and that it would have an adverse effect on South Williamstown and our southern entrance to town.  I think Williamstown voters deserve to know the size and scale of a project before approving a major zoning change.
Because of our position that an Orchard's sized hotel is more appropriate for the site than a Jiminy Peak sized hotel, opponents in town are accusing us of crushing economic development in Williamstown. Again, I don't agree.  If you drive around the country you can see lots of examples of poor planning. When you drive into Williamstown you can feel a difference.  This isn't by accident. It's because of carefully enforced zoning.  Our role on the Planning Board is to write the zoning bylaws that The Zoning Board enforces. Williamstown has always done careful planning, for the most part, keeping development in town and protecting our natural resources and farms. It's upsetting that civil discourse around this issue has been supplanted by hostility and aggressive tactics. I have always remained polite and respectful.
If elected to the Planning Board I intend to continue my work to promote smart growth:  encouraging business development in our business and industrial districts.  I believe this is in the long-term economic interest of our town.
I appreciate your support for the 5-year seat on the Planning Board. We'll work hard between now and Tuesday.  Polls are open from 7am to 8pm.
Thanks for reading this and thanks for your support,
My video statement:
All the best,




Post a Comment

<< Home