Beacon to Hold Forums on Development

Proposed by new mayor at his first meeting

After winning an election dominated by talk of development, new Beacon Mayor Lee Kyriacou wasted little time addressing the issue this week, setting the stage for a pair of community forums and refreshing the rosters of the city’s Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals.

The City Council, which also has two new members — Air Rhodes and Dan Aymar-Blair, representing Wards 2 and 4, respectively — agreed on Monday (Jan. 6) to hold two forums before Beacon’s moratorium on new development expires on March 3. The dates and locations are to be determined, but the council agreed to hold one forum on a weeknight and the other during a weekend.

City Administrator Anthony Ruggiero said he would come to the council’s next workshop on Jan. 13 with dates and draft agendas for the council to review.

Each of the forums will include two segments — one on procedure, to give residents a better understanding of the nuts and bolts of planning and development, followed by a question-and-answer/public comment session.

“If we understand the process as a community and we understand what’s in our comprehensive plan, it’s reasonably sound,” Kyriacou said. “One of the goals [of the comprehensive plan] is to get sufficient density to support a Main Street in the long run. I don’t think that’s going to change, but the ways that we accomplish that are going to change. Bringing that to the table and allowing an open discussion, I think we’ll all be better off.”

The forums will be moderated by a facilitator, he added.

The council still must decide whether to extend its moratorium, which was enacted in September because of problems with one of the city’s drinking-water wells. Ruggiero said he would also update the council on Jan. 13 on the repairs.

In addition to announcing the forums, Kyriacou proposed, with the council approving, four new members for the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals, the two volunteer agencies charged with reviewing development plans.

Kevin Byrne and Karen Quiana, both architects, and Leonard Warner, an environmental engineer, were added to the Planning Board. Quiana replaces Gary Barrack, who resigned recently, and will serve the two years remaining on his term. Warner will serve the last year of the term of David Burke, who also resigned. Byrne will serve a standard three-year term and replaces Patrick Lambert, whose term ended.

The council also reappointed John Gunn and Richard Muscat to the board, with Gunn tapped to again serve as chair.

The council appointed Elaine Ciaccio to the ZBA, which decides whether to allow use and area variances requested for development projects. She succeeds Garrett Duquesne, who resigned, and will serve the two years left in his term. David Jensen, a lawyer and current ZBA member, was named as its new chair, replacing Robert Lanier, who will remain as a board member.

Along with a slew of other organizational agenda items, the council named Amber Grant, an at-large member beginning her second term, to step in as acting mayor if Kyriacou is absent from a meeting.

Finally, the City Council agreed to hold one meeting each quarter on a Saturday, to allow commuters and other residents who don’t normally come to meetings to attend. Its scheduled meetings occur at 7 p.m. on the first and third Monday, with workshops on the second and fourth Monday, except when a holiday pushes the meeting to Tuesday or a month includes five Mondays, in which case the fourth Monday is skipped.

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