HARVARD -- Just as the Harvard Cable Committee's TV studio project is wrapping up at Bromfield School, the Planning Board has issued a cease-and-desist order.
Planning Board Chairman Kara Minar brought the board's concerns to the selectmen Tuesday night, Sept. 10. Speaking during the public communication portion of the meeting, she said that in the board's view, the project bypassed the proper site plan review process.
Exterior changes such as re-grading the site for handicapped access, for example, were not done by the book, Minar said. The plan was moved forward without engineering drawings or items such as set-backs, pedestrian safety, drainage and specific ADA-compliance issues adequately addressed, she said.
And the Planning Board was never consulted.
"We were not informed," but with a paving crew on site that morning, the board felt the matter was "urgent," she said. Now, the board is calling for a full site plan review.
The zoning enforcement officer told her he would not carry out the cease-and-desist order without a legal opinion from Town Counsel Mark Lanza, Minar said.
But Lanza has already weighed in, verbally at least. In his opinion, the educational nature of the project exempts it from the site plan review process, Minar said. But the Planning Board does not agree, based on state law, case law and town bylaws.
"Our intent is not to delay the project or escalate costs," Minar told the selectmen. But it should meet standards, and to do otherwise could be "penny-wise and pound-foolish" in the long run, since remediation costs could be high if the job isn't done right.
"We request a cease-and-desist until a proper site plan and/or legal review is complete," Minar said.
Another Planning Board member, James Breslauer, backed her up. Educational institutions may be exempt from zoning in some cases, but not always, he said.
But Minar's pressing concern now was the paving. The crew didn't do any work Monday due to weather, she said, but would they be back to do the job Tuesday?
Town Administrator Tim Bragan assured her they would not.
He sent paperwork to the attorney and is awaiting a written reply, he said.
Until then, the project is on hold. But if Lanza's legal opinion, in writing, is the same as the opinion he already gave verbally, the cease-and-desist order will be lifted, Bragan said.