The Town of Wellesley depends on the active participation of its citizens in governance of the Town. Wellesley has 11 Boards and Committees on the ballot at the Annual Town election each year in March. The 2019 election will be held on Tuesday, March 5, 2019.
Contested race for 1-year term: Planning Board
The role of the Planning Board is to make short and long term decisions related to land use in the Town of Wellesley. The Planning Board seeks to realize the vision of Wellesley residents for their community through the judicious use of municipal planning and project review. As a result, the Planning Board is responsible for the maintenance and update of the Town’s Zoning Bylaws and Zoning Map, divisions of land, and the review of large-scale projects with Town-wide impacts.
In the 2019 election, there are two Planning Board races — one race is for a one-year term on the Board; one race is for a 5-term on the Board. Frank Pinto is running for the 1-year Board position against Albert Berry and Deed Mccollom for a single available seat.
We invited the three candidates to answer a few questions about their qualifications and their priorities for the Town of Wellesley. Today’s post features Pinto. Deed Mccollum‘s responses ran in an earlier post. We have not received a response from Berry.
Frank Pinto, candidate for one-year term on Planning Board
The Swellesley Report: What is your background and what qualifies you for this position?
Pinto: I have been a Member, Vice Chair and Chair of the Wellesley Advisory Committee which is an expanded version of the typical town finance committee in Massachusetts. The Wellesley Advisory Committee evaluates and makes recommendations not only on all budget and financial issues that are brought to the Town Meeting, but also all other town issues including those that come within the purview of the Planning Board such as amendments of the Zoning By-law. I am currently a Town Meeting Member and a board member of the Wellesley Council on Aging.
I did specialized course work at Middlebury College in urban planning in addition to economics and environmental studies. After college, I took a position as an environmental scientist at a prominent environmental consulting firm where I directed environmental impact statements for housing developments, commercial development and industrial projects. Switching course, I completed an MBA at The Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College and had a successful career in venture capital and private equity where I helped to finance and grow high tech enterprises as a general partner and managing general partner for private investment funds. I have been a board member and at times an executive of many small growing companies. I have hired many key people over the years and feel confident that I can play an important role in helping to vet and hire an excellent planning director.
I have been a Wellesley resident since 1986.
Sw: If elected, what do you hope to accomplish during your tenure on the Planning Board?
Pinto: With the meteoric rise of internet purchasing, retail is leaving our magnificent downtown and we have to be creative to maintain a vibrant downtown. Wellesley needs more attractive and reasonably priced senior housing. Wellesley residents paid $35 million for the North 40 and we need to hear all voices (not just the loudest and most shrill voices) regarding its future. Wellesley was clearly remiss in not developing a housing production plan until now to rationally meet our affordable housing mandate under state law. The Selectmen and the Planning Board need to find common ground to anticipate and lead intelligently in the future.
Sw: What is your hot-button issue?
Pinto: My experience as a member of town boards is that board members may not heed the advice and long term expertise of the town department directors and the staff as much as they should. In a town of smart, well educated, vocal residents, there is a tendency of board members to overvalue their position when in fact, they should be listening very carefully to the town department heads and employees who have considerably more expertise that the board members. I plan to listen carefully.
Sw: With the national attention given to the “Impeach Trump” banner at a Wellesley Hills home, can you comment how the bylaws related to that issue should be addressed?
Pinto: Our Bylaw does not regulate content, but it does establish reasonable regulation on all types of speech, commercial or non-commercial. In a residential zone, the Bylaw is less restrictive on non-commercial speech than commercial messages. Any homeowner may put up one “Standard Informational Sign” at all times of the year, limited to 6 sq. ft. in area and 3′ or 6′ in height, depending on the style; the content of this sign is no matter to the Town. The Planning Department feels the Bylaw is Constitutional. If the Wellesley Hills resident had installed a 6 sq. ft. sign that said the same thing, there would have been no violation issued. My opinion, the bylaw is fine and homeowners should follow the 6 sq. ft. rule.
Sw: How should voters reach you if they want more information?