Only a handful of people were tuning in at any 1 time to the Wellesley Board of Selectmen meeting on Monday night (agenda here and video recording embedded below), but those of you work have construction projects underway at your homes or who hire landscapers might want to catch the replay. Possible new restrictions in town could hit you right in the kitchen.
The board members engaged in a lengthy and at times tense discussion (starting at about 1 hour and 40 minutes into the meeting) in which they debated restrictions that the town might put in place on everything from municipal to commercial to residential construction projects as well as on landscaping work. Executive Director Meghan Jop kicked off the discussion, proposing an order that would better distinguish between essential and nonessential projects, such as you need to have a working stove or bathroom, but you don’t necessarily need a new deck or kitchen remodel.
Lise Olney raised the issue of whether work should be allowed on uninhabited spec houses despite the economic interests of those who have invested in such properties and projects. “There are economic interests that are falling by the wayside all over the place because we’re in a health emergency,” she said.
As for extending such an order to include landscaping, Board member Tom Ulfelder argued that there’s a big difference between social distancing challenges while doing landscaping vs. working on interior construction, where it might be harder to stay out of each others’ way.
The discussion was much more nuanced than I’ve summarized here, so I would advise reviewing the video if you want to delve into this in greater detail.
A subset of the group is finalizing language around new rules for construction activities, and landscaping might be revisited. Such restrictions would initially be effective until May 4.
Much of the issue comes down to interpretations of Gov. Charlie Baker’s Emergency Order regarding COVID-19 Essential Services.
An unintended consequence of the order, said BoS member Jack Morgan, is that the term “essential” gets applied with a “broad brush.”