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February 10 Special TM Scheduled for New Woodland School

The Board of Selectmen has scheduled a two-article Special Town Meeting for Monday, February 10 to consider approving funds for a new Woodland Elementary School and a Zoning By-law amendment that would change the dimensional requirements for public schools. The new school is estimated to cost about $60 million, with at least half of that to be reimbursed by the state.

Woodland School Building Committee chair Aldo Cecchi and member Jonathan Bruce attended the Board of Selectmen's December 16 meeting, but did not comment as Selectman Dino DeBartolomeis – his board's representative to the building committee – requested that the meeting be scheduled to discuss the two articles.

Town Counsel Gerald Moody advised selectmen to forward the proposed zoning amendment to the Planning Board for its legally required review. The Planning Board has scheduled a January 21 hearing on it.

The proposed amendment would change two sections of the town's Zoning By-Laws:

• Section 2.3 Use Regulation Schedule: Footnote 11, regarding schools, now reads: "All structures and activity areas appurtenant to the primary use shall be located at least 100 feet from abutting residentially zoned or utilized land." The proposed amendment would change this by adding these words at the end: "except that such appurtenant structures and activities associated with public schools should be located at least 25 feet from abutting residentially zoned or utilized land."

• Section 2.5 Intensity of Use Schedule: Footnote F now reads: "The height requirements shall not apply to farm buildings, chimneys, church spires, flag poles, or public monuments; provided however, that the special permit granting authority may specific a height limit for any such structure where the use of said structure is permitted only upon the issuance of a Special Permit." The proposed amendment would add the words, "public schools," before the words "public monuments.

The Zoning Board of Appeals voted unanimously on November 14 to grant variances for the 100-foot buffer zone and the height requirements to build a new Woodlawn Elementary School building on the same property where the current school is located. Neighbors have since appealed that decision.


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