Zoning along Route 6A in East Sandwich and fallout from a criminal guilty plea apparently have helped spark a last-minute race for the planning board in next Thursday’s town election.
Robert E. King of Summer Street confirmed earlier this week that he plans to mount a write-in campaign for one of the two three-year seats available this year on the board.
Before Mr. King entered the race, the three candidates running for the board had been unopposed.
Board chairman Joseph A. Vaudo, who lives on Route 6A, is running for re-election to a three-year seat.
Lori A. Caron, also of Route 6A, is running for election to the other available three-year seat. Ms. Caron had been appointed by the board of selectmen in January to an unexpired term on the board.
David L. Darling of Old County Road filed for a one-year unexpired term on the board.
But Mr. King, the co-owner of Café Chew in Merchants Square and a 32-year resident of Sandwich, has long held a deep interest in zoning in the town.
At last November’s Special Town Meeting, Mr. King was among those who spoke against a planning board proposal to modify zoning in the Route 6A corridor from Quaker Meetinghouse Road to the Barnstable town line.
The restaurateur continued to discuss Sandwich zoning with other residents. A number of them asked him to run for the board. Ms. Caron said she was among them.
But Mr. King—mulling whether he was more effective as a curmudgeon outside the board than sitting on it—held off.
Then Mr. Vaudo, who owns and operates Joe’s Lobster Mart on Canal Road, pleaded guilty March 28 in Barnstable District Court to charges stemming from his purchase of stolen oysters.
At that point, Mr. King said, more people began asking him to run.
Earlier this week, he confirmed that he had decided to run for a three-year seat on the board.
He said he was not so much running against Mr. Vaudo or Ms. Caron, who also are running for three-year seats, as he is positive about his values and the voice he said he can bring to the board.
Mr. King said he is concerned that the planning board has been seeking to allow more commercial uses in traditionally historic areas of Sandwich.
He said he is all for new growth, but does not want to jeopardize those attractive aspects that draw visitors to certain areas of town, such as downtown Sandwich.
Increased commercial development, he said, will not do that much to reduce the town’s property taxes.
Ms. Caron—who works for a nonprofit organization and operates a lobster business—said that she also has concerns about allowing a large expansion of commercial uses along Route 6A.
But Ms. Caron said she also believes that Sandwich zoning should make greater allowance for small-scale, often historic uses such as home occupations.
She said she has been doing a lot of listening and community outreach to try to get a better sense of what the property owners along Route 6A want.
Mr. Vaudo—who was first elected to the planning board in 2001 and elected chairman last year—could not be reached for comment on his candidacy or his zoning priorities.
Town clerk Taylor D. White said that Mr. King faces a couple of logistical considerations as a write-in candidate.
One is that people who want to vote for him need to write his full name and address: Robert E. King, of 9 Summer Street.
Anyone wishes to vote for the write-in candidate would need to fill in his full name and address: Robert E. King, of 9 Summer Street.