Studying Schlumberger land’s future: It’s a committee people want to be on

More than 20 people have volunteered to serve on a committee to study future uses for the Schlumberger property, the town will be taking applications through the end of the year, and the selectmen may fill some committee seats with members of town boards and commissions.

“You want a committee that broadly represents different parts of town, that doesn’t have an agenda, and that understands what can and can’t be done,” said Selectman Andy Bodner.

At the Board of Selectmen’s discussion Wednesday night, Dec. 10, Mr. Bodner suggested giving some committee seats to representatives of town boards — the Planning and Zoning Commission, the Board of Finance.

The selectmen had decided to form the committee in November, after voters rejected the deal they’d worked out to sell part of the property to art collector Eric Diefenbach.

The board continues to negotiate with condominium developer Charter Group LLC over 10 acres of Schlumberger land that were re-zoned for multifamily development, and the selectmen envision putting a proposal for a 10-acre sale before voters sometime next year.

Dec. 31 deadline

The board has now set a deadline of Dec. 31 for residents to express interest in serving on the study committee for the future of the remaining 30 acres of Schlumberger land.

A release from Mr. Marconi’s office says: “Residents for the soon-to-be-formed committee to research and review potential uses of the 30-acre former Schlumberger parcel in the center of Town” should send a letter, résumé and CV to [email protected] by Dec. 31.

“Candidates must be electors of the Town and should have the ability to meet on a regular basis for this long-term assignment,” the release says.

“This committee of nine will work with a planner/planning company to review all potential options and aspects of the future of the property. Expertise in land use is welcome but not necessary for all candidates. Interviews with the Board of Selectmen will commence in January 2015.”

The selectmen expect to discuss the committee, its general makeup, and its formal “charge” at their meeting on Jan. 7. And they’re tentatively planning to have a special meeting to interview prospective committee members Jan. 14.

“I’d like to get going on it,” First Selectman Rudy Marconi told fellow board members last week.

“The charge, generally, speaking, is going to be to make a recommendation on the future use of those acres, in conjunction with a planner and Planning and Zoning,” he said.

Mr. Marconi told the board last Wednesday that 17 people had asked to be considered for the committee, and on Monday he said the number of applications had gone over 20.

Boards on committee

The selectmen made no decision on Mr. Bodner’s suggestion that some seats on the committee should be designated for members of other town boards and commissions.

In discussing the idea at their Dec. 10 meeting, the selectmen mentioned the Planning and Zoning Commission, the Board of Finance, and also some members of advisory groups like the Economic Development Committee and the Arts Council.

There was also talk of putting representatives of the Parks and Recreation Commission or the Housing Authority on the committee, but some board members felt they might have too narrow an outlook, due to their specific duties — parks, housing, etc.

“The Board of Finance and Economic Development Committee are more generalists,” Selectman Barbara Manners said.

Too many

While it was easy to come up with groups that could make a contribution, the selectmen didn’t want to have what was originally envisioned as a citizens committee and then pack it with board and commission members.

“I don’t want to dominate it with members of board and commissions,” Mr. Marconi said.

“It should be a minority,” said Ms. Manners.

Arnold Light, chairman of the Economic Development Committee, offered a suggestion from the audience.

“Why don’t you have all these members of boards as advisers to the committee?” he said.

The selectmen may also look at increasing the size of what was initially envisioned as a nine-member committee.

“The nine members, I think, is a floating number,” Mr. Marconi said Monday. “It was generally thought during that discussion that to have more than nine would be somewhat difficult in terms of coordinating and organizing. …

“However, if we are going to ask members of various boards and commissions — e.g., Board of Finance, Planning and Zoning, Architectural Advisory Committee, Economic Development Committee — then you can see how quickly we’re consuming 50% of the ad hoc committee.”

A total of nine might not be enough.

“I believe we should have that number be above and beyond board and committee members,” Mr. Marconi said. “Or ask the board and committee members to serve as ex-officio members, meaning they do not have a vote.

“That’s what we would talk about on the 7th,” Mr. Marconi added, “and I asked the board to give it a little more thought.”

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