#44173
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MountainBiker
Survivalist
member10

74 is right. Years ago I was on the town’s Planning Board and as a matter of course we were required to hold public hearings on any new zoning regs. Pretty much nobody came. As is the case in much of small town & rural New England zoning and any other regulations then had to be approved at Town Meeting where common sense would usually prevail. My understanding is that in the rest of the country people don’t have that level of control at the local level and that the bureaucrats get to decide what to do which makes it all the more important to attend public hearings. My experience is that it was often the zealots that tried to get onto the Planning Board and onto the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Attending public hearings can make a difference. Years ago when residential properties were rising in value faster than commercial properties where I lived, the Selectboard and the Assessors got it in their heads that the fair thing to do would be to charge commercial property a higher rate than residential property. What they really wanted was to lower the residential tax rate so as to keep voters happy and the commercial properties were an easy target to make that happen. Split rates like that were allowed by law in MA. I called the owners of the larger commercial properties in town to tell them what was happening and they all showed up at the public hearing. The Selectboard and Assessors were shocked into silence and withdrew their proposal. Basic fairness prevailed (everyone paying at the same rate based on the value of their property)