WESTFORD – Welcome to the June 4 edition of Weekend Wrap-Up. Here, we highlight the most important news you may have missed this week in Westford.
PHOTOS: Westford Academy Graduation 2023
Director of Pupil Services Courtney Moran has been selected as the new Assistant Superintendent for Westford Public Schools.
The vote comes after a recommendation from Superintendent of Schools Christopher Chew during a May 31 School Committee meeting.
With Kerry Clery’s departure from Westford Public Schools and appointment as the Interim Superintendent of Billerica Public Schools for next year, it left WPS with “a large vacancy [to fill] very quickly here in the district,” according to Chew.
“We’ve worked together for a long time, we know each other very well, and I feel like we’re able to complement each other in this leadership position,” Chew said. “I have the full confidence that Courtney [will] be a phenomenal assistant superintendent.”
Moran was recommended from her previous work in district’s administration, her special education background, and her prior experience in the Westford Public Schools. Much of her responsibilities will include human resource work.
“I do support Courtney in this role. She is very knowledgeable…someone that has a historical view, has such a good understanding of regulations, and has that special ed background will only [be] an asset in this role,” Miller School Principal Melissa Boylan said.
Moran will begin her new role on July 1.
A proposed zoning bylaw that would regulate future firearms businesses in Westford has received the blessing of both the Select Board and the Planning Board. So — what happens next?
Select Board, Planning Board co-sponsor proposal
WestfordCAT originally reported on April 26 that the Select Board voted unanimously to co-sponsor the proposed bylaw amendment during an April 25 meeting. The Planning Board later voted unanimously during a May 1 meeting to co-sponsor the proposal and begin the public hearing process.
A public hearing notice for the proposed bylaw was published in the Lowell Sun on May 19 and May 26. When asked if WestfordCAT should publish the notice on our site, Director of Land Use Management Jeffery Morrissette did not request that WestfordCAT publish the notice on our site.
“We are trying to treat all public hearing notifications in a consistent manner – so I am not requesting that you publish the hearing notice on your site on those dates,” Morrissette wrote in an email to WestfordCAT.
What’s in the proposal?
The proposed bylaw would not impact businesses that have already received approval, such as a firearms dealership at 359 Littleton Rd.
The proposal could limit the number of firearms businesses within Westford at one given time. The current draft bylaw would allow four special permits for firearms businesses within the town.
During the May 1 meeting, Morrissette noted that there was “no forward progress” regarding a proposed shop that received approval during a March 6 meeting.
Officials noted that if the 359 Littleton Rd. shop does not open, they would be open to increasing the number of special permits from four to five under the bylaw.
“So the four versus five, am I hearing four is maybe OK for now and if we find evidence that maybe the 359 isn’t going forward then you might change that during the public hearing process back to five, is that what I’m hearing,” Morrissette asked.
“That would be my opinion on it,” Planning Board Chair Dylan O’Connor responded.
WestfordCAT reached out to Morrissette who did not immediately respond via email for further clarification regarding the status of the shop.
The draft bylaw would not apply to sportsmen’s clubs, such as the Westford Sportsmen’s Club or Stony Brook Fish and Game Association.
New firearms businesses would be allowed under a special permit in the Commercial Highway and Industrial Highway districts under the proposal.
Proposal contains a number of setbacks, restrictions
The draft bylaw could limit new businesses within 500 feet of schools, child care centers, religious institutions or existing firearms businesses.
Under the most recent proposal, the Planning Board would be the Special Permit Granting Authority for future firearms businesses.
Additionally, the Planning Board could impose a number of criteria for a proposed firearms business that fall within 500 feet of a facility that “serves persons under age 18 who commonly congregate to participate in scheduled and structured activities.” These criteria include:
- Whether children congregate at a specific place according to a schedule.
- How frequently children congregate at the specific location in such scheduled and structured activities.
- Whether the purpose of congregating is for an activity designed for or targeted toward children.
- Whether the children congregate in groups of 10 or more.
- Information contained within the purpose sections of Business Certificates and/or Articles of Organization filed with the Corporations Division of the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
These criteria do not apply to one-on-one instructional services or facilities where children “may happen to congregate but not in a structured, scheduled manner,” according to the bylaw.
Under the proposal, businesses would need to submit a security plan as well as an operations and management plan to the Westford Police Department.
Businesses would be unable to operate before 9 a.m. and must close by 7 p.m. under the proposal.
Waiving some requirements
The Planning Board may, under a supermajority vote, waive setback requirements to issue a special permit provided that:
- The application is for a new applicant (change of applicant) for an existing business.
- The application is for adding another element of service to an existing business.
- The application is for a new firearms business proposed in a location on the same lot as an existing firearms business provided there is sufficient separation between the units or buildings.
- The applicant demonstrates that one or more of the firearms business types would otherwise be effectively prohibited in the town.
- The project can be condition to reasonably satisfy the purpose and intent of the setback requirements.
The bylaw also outlines a number of needs within the town for a firearms business, including but not limited to:
- Purchase and sale of firearms.
- Purchase and sale of firearms accessories.
- Purchase and sale of ammunition.
- Firing range.
If the maximum number of special permits are granted and one of the above needs is not met, the Planning Board may issue an additional special permit.
“In the event that the limit of four special permits is reached, the SPGA may waive this limitation upon a finding by supermajority vote that the proposed Firearm Business would provide service as a Firearm Dealer, Firing Range, or Gunsmith where such service is not yet being provided by any of the then-existing Firearms Businesses in Town,” the bylaw reads.
When is the public hearing?
The public hearing is scheduled to open on June 5 at 7 p.m. in Meeting Room 201 at Town Hall. The amendment will be considered at a Special Town Meeting no later than Oct. 16.
Residents who are unable to attend in-person may submit written comments via email to email@example.com.
A group of local preschoolers are using lemonade to make a difference.
Students have rallied together to host a fundraiser for 7-year-old Kailyn Bennet, a local student battling Trichothiodystrophy.
The fundraiser is organized by Good Pickin’ Farm and the family of Bryce Bennett, a 3-year-old student at the farm’s Acres of Fun Preschool.
Helping Kailyn Bennett
Funds will benefit the Boston Children’s Hospital Immunology Research Fund, where Kailyn Bennet, a 7-year-old student from Groton receives treatment for Trichothiodystrophy.
Trichothiodystrophy is a rare inherited condition that impacts a number of areas in the body, including the immune system, according to the National Institutes of Health.
“It affects her whole body. The thing she struggles so with the most is that she’s immuno-deficient. She couldn’t clear an ear infection for a year,” Jessica Bennet, Kailyn’s mother, told WestfordCAT.
She added, “Some parts of her immune system she can get treatment for, some she can’t. That’s why we want our money to go towards the research fund.”
With her condition, Kailyn originally had a reduced life expectancy of three to six years.
“She’s [made it] beyond that now, though,” she said.
Kailyn, who is also deaf and blind, attends Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown. She has only recently returned to the classroom for the first time since 2020.
“She’s been out of school for three years because of the pandemic because of her susceptibility to germs,” Jessica Bennett said.
Fundraisers through Good Pickin’ Farm, Eversource Walk for Kids
Bennett and her family have participated in Eversource’s Walk For Kids fundraiser for seven years. This year marks their first year raising donations through a lemonade stand.
Their lemonade stand concept, Bennett says, is a step in “normalizing” life for her son Bryce.
“This sense of community starts to normalize his [Bryce’s] life because his life is abnormal,” she said.
She added, “germs are a big part of what we have to deal with. Germs are a normal part for him [Bryce] to have a normal developed life but also protect Kailyn.”
Bennett says the support from the students is “priceless.”
“I think it’s amazing. I get overwhelmed with emotions sometimes, a lot of the time we get connected to these opportunities, it’s a Kailyn connection. This is powerful because it’s a way for Bryce to shine,” she said.
In a statement to WestfordCAT, Good Pickin’ Farm’s Promotional Market Manager Sarah McCarthy says the farm is “all about supporting the community.”
“We call them our farm-ily. We’re 100% for it. It’s a good feeling,” she said.
Lemonade can be purchased at Good Pickin’ Farm from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on May 31 and June 1. The stand has raised over $126 at the time of reporting.
The family also plans to walk the Charles River Esplanade on June 11 to benefit Eversource’s Walk for Kids and Boston Children’s Hospital. The family has raised $725, $475 above their $250 goal at the time of reporting.