In his latest posting on political signs, Belmont Patch blogger John Bowe made an unsubstantiated charge about me, a public official and a client that are not supported by the facts, reason or, in fact, logic.
Mr. Bowe writes: “Last weekend I was especially disappointed to see a large sign for Selectman candidate Andy Rojas on the construction fence at the former Murray Sandler site at the intersection of Concord Avenue and Bright Road. My immediate thought was, is this payback for approvals in front of the planning board? Does this feel wrong to anyone else? It is probably just crassness on the part of the developer.”
I would have hoped that Mr. Bowe had practice a greater degree of due diligence before making what I consider inflammatory accusations. Certainly Mr. Bowe could have called the town's Office of Community Development and asked for the minutes of the public meetings concerning 58-60 and 70 Concord Ave., the sites currently under construction where the aforementioned sign for Mr. Rojas is located, or talk to members of the Belmont Planning Board.
Mr. Bowe would have learned from staff and Planning Board members that Mr. Rojas was a semi-royal thorn in the side of the developer, long-time Belmont resident Robert Orfaly. Despite tremendous neighborhood support and being designed by a well-known architectural firm, HDS Architecture – whose founder is a Belmont resident – the proposed development underwent some very tough sledding with the Planning Board until it was approved in July of last year.
(In the interest of full disclosure, I sold the property for Mr. Sandler to Mr. Orfaly and I am currently marketing the property.)
The Planning Board raised a number of concerns and required the developer to make numerous revisions to the project, none which were requested by the abutters. I personally received half-a-dozen calls from neighbors who were disappointed that the permitting process proceeded so slowly.
After knowing the facts and degree of scrutiny the Planning Board and Mr. Rojas took to the Murray Sandler redevelopment, Mr. Bowe's allegations are, on their face, baseless. In fact, he may want to ask himself whether his statement now “feels wrong to anyone else?”
As a point of fact, does it feel “wrong” to anyone else that there is a much larger sign on the corner of Gale and Bright roads less than half-a-mile away? That sign, more than twice as large as the one on at 58-60 and 70 Concord, reads “God Bless President Obama.” Personally I laugh when I see the sign; I don’t want to see a hundred such signs but that one is unique.
Andy Rojas has been on the Planning Board almost six years. Mr. Rojas been an active member of a number of important committees in town for nearly a decade and has a long public record serving the town productively in a number of capacities. If Mr. Bowe had chosen to criticize something Mr. Rojas had actually done, or for a position he had taken, that would certainly be an acceptable criticism. But, in this case, there is nothing "wrong" with a political sign on a fence along a road in Belmont.