Devens Committee chairman protests voting arrangements
The Harvard Press, Posted: July 2, 2015
By: John Osborn
At last week’s June 25 meeting of the joint boards of Ayer, Harvard, Shirley, and the Devens community—their first since March—Devens representative and Devens Committee Chairman Tom Kinch surprised the other members by questioning current voting arrangements for Devens residents and calling for change.
Chapter 498, the state law that established the Devens economic development zone, says that eligible Devens residents “shall be entitled to vote in the Town in which their residence is located.” That includes all federal, state, and local elections and includes the right to vote for funding and bylaw articles at their local town meeting.
The same law gives MassDevelopment the power to govern Devens and makes it responsible for providing services to its residents and businesses. Devens residents pay property taxes to MassDevelopment, and the agency—with the advice of the five-member elected Devens Committee—procures the services they need. Devens has its own fire department and DPW, but MassDevelopment contracts with the State Police for public safety and with Harvard for the education of its children.