Apr 282014

Last week’s editorial in The Groton Herald left many folks scratching their heads. While I’m reluctant to get sucked into a flame-throwing contest with the editor of The Groton Herald, the tone and misrepresentation of the facts necessitates a response. The matter in question revolved around an idea I had to explore a building permit fee waiver for the Blood Farm reconstruction.  This was solely my idea and in no way related to any request or suggestion from Blood Farm and was in fact initiated without their knowledge.  My rationale in considering this idea was that the Blood Farm fire was a significant loss for the community as evidenced by the outpouring of support and words of encouragement to the family to reconstruct the business.  As we all know, this is a business which has been in Groton for five generations dating back to the early 1800’s and that legacy, in my view, differentiates it from other enterprises in town.  Immediately after the fire the decision to rebuild was somewhat up in the air, but the family was sincerely moved by this outpouring of support.  It is also true that each and every Selectmen had expressed at one point doing whatever the town could do to help the family in rebuilding and the thought occurred to me that a building fee waiver would be a tangible example of support. The only extent to which this idea evolved was my checking with the individual Selectmen regarding their view.  Both Selectmen Degen and Petropoulos indicated they did not think this was a good idea and it was completely dropped.  No request for a waiver was ever made to the Town Manager or building department.  All Selectmen knew the issue never advanced behind the idea phase, yet a member saw an opportunity to create some political mischief and mentioned it to a business owner in West Groton who then complained to the editor of The Groton Herald. I am sincerely embarrassed about any negative attention this idea may have brought to Blood Farm and will reiterate that they are in no way associated with it.  The editor of The Groton Herald knows his characterization of this idea as smacking of favoritism, cronyism and political shenanigans is inaccurate since I personally spoke with him and conveyed the background for the idea.  If it had even gotten beyond the idea phase, it is now evident that Blood Farm would have rejected the offer.  It is also true that there is no history of waiving building permit fees for private enterprises in town, yet one reading the editorial would think it is a common occurrence requiring an immediate policy response.  And finally, per Groton’s charter, the decision to waive fees is not under the purview of the Selectmen. This may come as a surprise to the editor of The Groton Herald, but Selectmen do indeed speak with one another from time to time on a host of issues before the town; many much more juicy than this one!  Decisions are ultimately discussed in open session, but if it is a crime to float ideas in this manner, then we are all guilty as charged.  If the editor of The Groton Herald would rather see town government totally hamstrung by exposing the flow if ideas to his flamethrower, then we are probably all in the wrong business.    Sincerely, Peter Cunningham Selectman