Earlier today, Village Keepers, a nonprofit opposed to the preliminarily approved Post House project at the site of the former Maplewood Post Office, announced that it was withdrawing an appeal related to the project. In an release that accused town leaders of “backroom maneuvers” and “steamrolling” the process, Village Keepers stated that “the governing body has exploited technicalities and ignored protocols in a way that allowed it to force approval of this travesty.” Planning Board Chair Tom Carlson responded to the appeal withdrawal and the accusations in the release in an email to Village Green which reads as follows:
I strenuously disagree that the planning board’s review process was in any way improper or manipulated. We followed established legal protocol in exchanging information with the applicant and in hearing the case. The record will bear this out. Furthermore, the board is comprised of a group of dynamic individuals who are intelligent, insightful, and capable of thinking for themselves.
Having said that, it’s important to note that the Village Keepers (and their allied organizations) were exercising their constitutional rights of political expression and of seeking relief through the courts. Democratic processes can sometimes be inefficient and frustrating, but they still reflect democracy in action, for which I have great respect. I believe that the Post House development project benefited from the intense public scrutiny it received.
My only disappointment is that the Village Keepers did not exit more gracefully. As we all know, politics on a national level these days is hamstrung by sanctimony and ideology. We don’t need that in Maplewood. Rather, we need to find ways to reduce antagonism and recriminations so that we can marshal our energies to deal with the ongoing challenges of keeping our community a great place to live.