What is a Public Hearing?
The purpose of a public hearing is to collect information, testimony and comments about a proposed development project from a variety of sources for the Planning and Economic Development Board to consider in evaluating a project and making a decision.
The Planning and Economic Development Board must hold a duly advertised public hearing on almost every item that comes before it – definitive subdivision plans, major site plans, and special permits; proposed amendments to the Medway Zoning Bylaw; and adopting or amending various Rules and Regulations. Public hearings take place during Planning and Economic Development Board meetings which are usually held on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday night of each month. Notice of the hearing must include the date, time, place and subject matter and must be published in a newspaper once in each of two successive weeks before the date of hte hearing with the first publication being not less than fourteen days before. As a general rule, public hearings before the Medway Planning and Economic Development Board are advertised in the Milford Daily
Once all testimony is provided and all comments are received on the plans as may be further revised, the public hearing is closed. The next step is for the Planning and Economic Development Board to evaluate all the input provided, deliberate, and prepare a written Decision whether or not to approve the project. That Decision is filed with the Town Clerk and is subject to a 20-day period during which the Decision may be appealed to the courts. If no appeal is made, the next step is for the Planning and Economic Development Board to endorse (sign) the plans, which are then recorded with the Decision at the Registry of Deeds.
Does every development project need a public hearing before the Planning and Economic Development Board?
Public hearings with the Planning and Economic Development Board are not required for Approval Not Required (ANR) plans, minor site plans, preliminary subdivision plans, or informal discussions. These are considered by the Planning and Economic Development Board as agenda items at a public meeting.
Why was (or wasn’t) I notified about a public hearing?
At least two weeks before a public hearing begins, the owners of property that lie within 300 feet of the parcel that is the subject of the hearing are notified by certified mail. (500 feet in case of a proposed adult retirement community.) The Board also notifies other Medway Town departments and the Planning Boards of the six abutting municipalities. If you do not receive a notice, it is most likely because your property is located more than 300 feet from the parcel that is the subject of the hearing. If you purchased property recently, the notice of the public hearing may have been sent to the previous owner. The Town’s records are updated when the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds forwards the recording information to the Assessor’s Office. This usually takes about three months.
Will I be notified if there are additional meetings on this topic?
When a public hearing is continued, the Planning and Economic Development office does NOT re-advertise or re-notify abutters of the new date and time. However, an official continuation notice is filed with the Town Clerk. You may call the Planning and Economic Development office at (508) 533-3291 to find out if and when a public hearing has been continued or when a certain topic is on the agenda for a future meeting.
How long does a public hearing take?
A public hearing normally runs between 30 to 90 minutes on the first night. Public hearings are usually held over the course of several Planning and Economic Development Board meetings. Most public hearings are continued by a vote of the Planning and Economic Development Board to a future date, time and location for further review. It is not unusual for a public hearing to be continued several times before it is closed.
Will I get a chance to speak?
The Planning and Economic Development Board will recognize anyone in attendance who wishes to speak. Normally, the Board will hear a presentation from the applicant, hear any comments from other Town boards or officials, and then ask questions of the applicant before opening the hearing to public comments. If you wish to speak, the Board requests that you:
- Raise your hand and wait until you are recognized by the Chairperson.
- Identify yourself and your local address before speaking, so that your comments may be correctly attributed in the minutes.
- Address your comments to the Board, not to the applicant or any other attendee.
What issues are appropriate to speak about?
This is your opportunity to ask questions or make comments about the proposed development project. The Board is especially interested in comments from residents who are familiar with the condition and history of the parcel in question, the conditions and traffic patterns of roads that would be affected by the proposed development, and who may have pertinent information about the parcel that might not be known to the applicant or the Board. The Board encourages you to submit your comments in writing before the hearing in addition to (or in lieu of) attending the hearing in person. Please forward your letter to the Planning and Economic Development Board at 155 Village Street, Medway, MA 02053. The Board accepts email communications. All correspondence is entered into the public record.
Please try to limit your questions and comments to areas under the Planning and Economic Development Board’s jurisdiction including density, road adequacy, drainage, traffic, zoning compliance, and other land-use issues.
This information is important in the decision-making process. Do not hesitate to submit photographs if you feel they would be helpful.
Do the various Town departments/boards provide input during the public hearing process?
The Planning and Economic Development office circulates proposed development plans to various Town boards and departments including the Building Commissioner, Design Review Committee, Conservation Commission, Board of Health, Fire Department, Police Department, and the Department of Public Services which may provide written comments and recommendations to the Planning and Economic Development Board . Those comments are then entered into the “public record” during the public hearing.