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Year-end tasks for Stow Selectmen

By Ann Needle

          During its final meeting before the fiscal year ends June 30, the Stow Board of Selectmen on June 25 tended to the annual routine business that keeps the town running.

          There were also other pieces of news sprinkled into that annual ritual.

          The Board officially approved a Conservation Restriction on part of Red Acre Road’s former Kunelius property. Approved for purchase by Annual Town Meeting in 2018, about 42 acres were acquired by the Conservation Commission, and the rest [9 acres] by the Stow Municipal Affordable Housing Trust, according to Conservation Commission Coordinator Kathy Sferra. She noted that the Selectmen’s vote confirmed the restriction was “in the public interest,” and that Massachusetts is the only state requiring this approval.

          Selectmen Chair Jim Salvie remarked that plans for the property represent a nice combination of interests that include affordable housing and conservation, and that abutters have approved the move.

          Meanwhile, the Town’s long-time legal counsel faces changes in the months ahead. Town Counsel Jon Witten and Barbara Huggins Carboni explained to the Selectmen that their firm will be merging with KP Law. However, Witten assured that the only thing that should change for Stow would be who is issuing the bills, with hourly rates staying the same and Witten and Carboni assigned to Stow.

          And, given KP Law represents about half of the state’s municipalities, Witten pointed out it may offer legal expertise in areas Huggins & Witten does not have expertise in, such as labor law.

          Answering Selectman Tom Ryan’s question, Witten said if Stow faced a legal conflict with a city or town that KP Law represents, it would likely call in special counsel rather than risk a conflict of interest.

Agreements Renewed and Terms Filled

          Once again this year, the Board agreed to renew Stow’s Animal Control agreement with Boxborough and Littleton. Town Administrator William Wrigley noted the agreement is in its third year, providing service that has been “more than acceptable.”

          However, Wrigley explained that Boxborough did try to change the funding agreement from an even three-way split to one that charged more to the town with the largest usage, which was Stow. If Stow had not forced the agreement back to its original terms, the Town’s bill would have risen more than 40 percent as of July 1, he said.

          On its end, Stow agreed to try to control the number of calls Animal Control must answer immediately, Wrigley said. He remarked, “Some of these calls can be put off until the morning.”

          In a sure sign of summer, the Selectmen also voted unanimously to renew the Stow Recreation Commission’s agreement with the Town for its boating program on Lake Boon. Selectman Don Hawkes mentioned Recreation added a stand-up paddle boat to the fleet of kayaks this year.

          And, among the many personnel and volunteers whose terms the Selectmen approved as of July 1 was Mark Jones, who will be the Finance Committee’s community representative on the Nashoba Regional School District Audit Advisory Committee for the second consecutive year. The Board also approved adding Elena Coleman, one of Small Farm’s proprietors, to the Town’s Agricultural Committee. While Coleman is a Concord resident, she explained that she meets the Stow Agriculture criterion of working on a Stow farm.

Attention Commuters….

          Jim Salvie alerted residents using the South Acton commuter rail station that the Town of Acton will hold a lottery later this summer for a limited number of leased parking spaces. Non-residents and Acton residents receive equal priority, he said. Lottery applications must be submitted to Acton by July 31.

          For more information, including lot locations and prices, go to www.stow-gov, click on Parking at South Acton MBTA Rail Station.