On March 18th the Planning Board will hold an informal meeting with the applicant’s for the Lowe’s proposal. This meeting will allow Planning Board members to become educated on the proposal. The Commission Regulations specifically allows for these informal discussions as noted below:
Planning Board members are not allowed to hear testimony at this meeting as all testimony must be directed through the Commission process. However, since Planning Board members are asked to participate in the Commission process, they need to fully understand the proposal.
The meeting on the 18th will provide the Board with the opportunity to learn about the Lowe’s project. Cape Cod Commission staff will also be present at these informal sessions to keep the Board apprised of the process and to explain how the Board can participate in the Regional Review process.
The public is welcome to attend this meeting but will not be allowed to comment or ask questions. Planning Board members are being asked to keep all their questions focused on seeking clarification, this is not, legally, the time for Planning Board deliberations. Nor does the law allow for them to take any testimony town staff.
From what I can tell, the informal discussion process, while authorized, has rarely been used. During most DRI reviews, including the A&P in Dennis, the Planning Board stays on the sideline and virtually ignores the process. Leaving the Cape Cod Commission to render a decision that the town simply rubber stamps.
The Planning Board is looking forward to taking a leading role in illustrating how the Commission process can enhance the local board’s procedures.