Meet the Candidate: Leslie Glynn for Planning Board
There are not many in town who have not met or at least seen on zoom Leslie Glynn, current Chair of the all-volunteer and it seems all-nighter-meeting-prone Planning Board. The Owl first met Leslie on a tree walk with Tree Advisory Group and Planning Board representatives reviewing each tree Eversource wanted to trim or remove on Merriam Road, a scenic road. She’s knowledgeable, funny, and yeah, objectivity totally aside, pretty awesome.
In the second in the series on this year’s candidates for Town volunteer positions, the Owl sent over some questions to Leslie and the write-up is below. And in case anyone wants to know, the Owl’s favorite tree is a white oak.
Owl: How long have you lived in Weston? Where did you grow up?
Leslie: I have been lucky to have lived in Weston most of my life, with the exception of my college and initial work years. My parents had houses on Ridgeway Road, Cart Path Road and Doublet Hill. I was fortunate to buy a small house on Merriam Street which my husband and I still live in. I remember Weston when there was a ‘five and dime’ in the town center and when the town ‘pool’ was fed by the adjacent stream. We often had snapping turtle alerts when everyone had to get out of the water. Jaws had nothing on us.
What’s your favorite part of living here?
Where else can you be so close to Boston and still live in such a beautiful welcoming semi-rural community. I know, I know – if a Planning Board member uses the phrase ‘semi -rural’ one more time to describe Weston – you’ll (fill in the blank). For me, it means the built environment is respectful of the natural environment. I believe it is important to foster a symbiotic relationship with our natural environs, especially as climate change is taking its toll. Given that we have about 2000 acres of conservation land which we are very proud of, it seems that many in Weston agree
What’s your day job? How do you actually find time for it with Planning Board stuff?
I am a retired architect. But you’re right – the Planning Board stuff takes almost as much time, energy, and passion, as a real job – only without the pay.
How long have you been on Planning Board? What would possess you to re-up for another five years?
Hahahaha. Five years is the term for a Planning Board member. Like all our town’s volunteers, I try to be diligent, and honest and make the best decisions I can. Hopefully, I am making a difference for the good and hopefully, Weston residents agree. Yes, of course, I must be more than a bit wacky to go for another five.
You are currently chair of the committee…is that a rotating position or how does that work?
As with all (at least I think it’s all) boards and committees in town, every year each group decides who they want to be their Chair. Nothing and no one is set in stone. The PB has had some long-time occupants in the Chair position – because they did a fantastic job, carried important institutional memory, and bottom line – no one else volunteered. Being the Chair of any board is challenging, and as I learned this past year, much more time is involved, there are a lot of moving pieces and the seat can get very hot. Not every member has the time or wants to be the Chair. As long as I’ve been on the board, we have discussed it openly and honestly every year to choose the best person. That’s a tradition I expect we’ll keep.
You’ve long been a champion of trees, and the natural viewscape of Weston. What’s your favorite tree?
I really can’t pick – think of it like looking at a pastry display case – so many choices. This week it’s copper beech and next week it may be pagoda dogwood.
What do you see as the Planning Board’s biggest challenges? What’s the Town’s biggest challenge?
These may be simple questions, but the responses are many-faceted. The basic mandate of the Planning Board is to plan the future growth, development and conservation of Weston’s natural resources. Right now, Weston is facing a number of major challenges which will affect the town, its residents, and its budget for generations. These include discovering ways to foster diversity in housing stock, such as how to keep our smaller homes for young couples and retirees from disappearing, how to manage 40B’s as well as the newly mandated transit housing which could add another significant number of new housing units to the town, devise the best ways to incorporate and ameliorate municipal and state infrastructure projects such as the Rt. 30 reconstruction with a new shared path, the replacement and upgrade of the town’s water tanks and associated infrastructure, the decade-long Mass DOT tunneling project, and of course the challenges associated with increasing Weston’s resiliency to the climate crisis through responsible development and policy.
These are big, time-sensitive issues that are larger than any one Board can solve. It will take a fully engaged community – not just a few active folks – to help shape the work that the Boards and Committees will undertake. Hoping to successfully manage these issues, the Planning Board is actively reaching out to other boards and committees in town – Select Board, Sustainable Committee, Affordable Housing Trust, Historic Commission, Traffic and Sidewalk, Conservation Committee, Finance Com., etc., to try to work in conjunction. None of us can do it on our own.
Toward that end, I asked the Planning Board if we as a Board had the intestinal fortitude to take on the creation of a new Master Plan. (FYI – the Planning Board is charged by state law to renew the town masterplan from time to time. The last one was done in 1965.) The Planning Board responded yes, and further agreed that the master plan should be more than a land use plan. It should be a Unified Master Plan which many towns (Wellesley, Concord, Lincoln, etc.) have opted for in lieu of a standard Master Plan. It would serve as our community’s “blueprint” for the future, guiding and prioritizing regulatory changes, land use policies, budgeting decisions, and other wide-reaching community
decisions. The new town plan will be more comprehensive than its predecessor, encompassing important town matters beyond land use, such as housing, schools, traffic, sustainability, safety, transportation, recreation, etc. Individual departmental masterplans which are current will become part of the Unified Master Plan.
The Planning Board believes strongly that this can be an effective tool that will allow us as a community to better manage the upcoming, significant changes to housing, population, land use, and climate. Without it – as community demands increase – Weston will be forced to continue its current pattern of one-off decisions— with little understanding of how specific decisions fit into the bigger picture. A Unified Master Plan will allow us to re-evaluate who we are as a town, what we value, and what responsibilities we are willing to take on in order to become the town we want to leave to our children. The Planning Board proposes an open and interactive 3-year process that will involve town boards, committees, and individual residents. In addition to seats designated for the Planning Board,
Select Board, Finance Com., School Committee and COA, there are at-large committee member positions
available to be filled by town residents – so please consider volunteering.
Has the Planning Board ever won the town board/committee popularity contest? Not actually a thing I suppose.
Yes, as a board we do attract attention, good and bad. Serving on the Planning Board requires a delicate touch to find the right balance between private rights and the public good. As Chair, I am continually working to make the Planning Board public hearings more understandable and welcoming. As a board, we are in the middle of consolidating our rules and regulations to remove conflicts and when possible simplify the language. Weston has always had a strong Planning Board and I believe that the resulting wooded neighborhoods and public lands are a reason why so many people want to live in Weston.
Let me put it this way, at the recent Public Forum on the siting of the replacement water tanks, an abutter said – and I’m paraphrasing – that a few years ago they had a project which came before the Planning Bd. and the Planning Board was very strict about dark sky light fixtures, environmental impact, neighborhood screening, trees, etc. At the end of the review, he applauded our board’s rigor to preserve the integrity of the neighborhood – that is why he moved to Weston. For me, that says it all.
What do you like to do in your free time?
Travel, garden, golf, shop, futz, nap, and laugh.
Thank you, Leslie, for such thoughtful answers to the Owl’s questions, and thank you for being willing to volunteer for this town.
Kristen, you’re doing a great job of informing voters about the candidates! Would you be able to publicize our Candidates and Issues Night on Thursday, April 27th at 7:30 on ZOOM? We’ll have the link in a few days.
Happy to post it. Just let me know details when available.