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Collings Foundation Difficulties
The AFV ASSOCIATION was formed in 1964 to support the thoughts and research of all those interested in Armored Fighting Vehicles and related topics, such as AFV drawings. The emphasis has always been on sharing information and communicating with other members of similar interests; e.g. German armor, Japanese AFVs, or whatever.
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2015 7:06 pm
Post subject: Collings Foundation Difficulties

Hi All,

I saw this post from the Collings Foundation Facebook page posted today on a warbird site. This has relevance to us AFV fans as it impacts the proposed museum that Collings was/is to build as a means of displaying the vehicles from the former Littlefield collection. Due to the insanity of the Stow, MA political structure, it appears that we US AFV fans are, once again, to be sadly deprived of public access to another collection of AFVs.

Link to CF Facebook page:

Quoted from the Collings Foundation Facebook page:


"Based in Stow, Massachusetts, the Collings Foundation (501c3) is recognized internationally for the preservation, exhibition and operation of unique and rare historic aircraft and organizing educational living history events. The Stow museum features an incredible collection of over 75 classic automobiles, historic aircraft, tanks, military artifacts and machines.

We are in the process of expanding the facility to build the American Heritage Museum. This will be a state-of-the-art museum that will feature America’s history in the periods of WWI, WWII, Korean War, Cold War, Vietnam War and Gulf War. Military artifacts will be presented in a museum environment that is both educational and captivating.

Over the last two years we have been dealing with the mind numbing process of getting the approvals needed through the Stow boards. Apparently, the Planning Board of Stow are the only ones who can dictate what is considered educational. After two years of Planning Board meetings, the board has determined that museums are not educational. The Collings Foundation had another meeting with the Stow Planning Board Wednesday, July 29th. In a three to two vote the Planning Board made the determination that the Collings Foundation’s living history events, staff and docent tours, preservation and exhibition of historical artifacts and aircraft, school tours, STEM programs, Veteran round-table discussions, and so on – are not educational. Sorry to say, we are not making this up. More so, two out of the three on the Planning Board of Stow, Massachusetts who say our programs are not educational and mere “entertainment” – have never attended a living history event or public tour at the Collings Foundation’s museum! Wow....

Most recently, the building inspector usurped the Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s Aeronautics Commission in regulating aviation. After 37 years of continuous flying from our Stow property, the Stow Building issued a cease and desist order against the Foundation on March 26, 2015 prohibiting take-offs and landings.

Roughly 95% of the Collings Foundation’s flight operations happen during our Open House / Living History events that total six days of the year. People from Stow and all over New England have enjoyed the fantastic experience of flying in these aircraft for years.

We operate in compliance with all FAA regulations and the Massachusetts Aeronautics Commission has long approved our airfield. The Aeronautics Commission, in fact, notified the authorities in Stow on May 5, 2015 that the bylaw the Building Commissioner relied upon for his actions was “invalid and unenforceable.” (I have the letter if you want to see it)

Litigation that concluded in 2004 in Middlesex Superior Court confirmed that our operations were in compliance with the bylaws. The Town of Stow’s Zoning Board of Appeals was a party to that action, and it defended, at considerable taxpayer expense, the Collings Foundation’s activities as being in compliance with the bylaws.

Ironically, the very same Town Council who then defended our airfield use is now taking, in the absence of any changed circumstances, but in the face of the same considerable expense, the contrary position that our activities violate the bylaw. No, you can’t make this stuff up!!

Our second living history event called Race of the Century happened on July 25th and 26th. A major part of this event is the exhibition of one of the oldest flying aircraft in the United States – a 1909 Bleriot. National Geographic TV had planned to document this incredible feat of early aviation. After all these years, it is a terrible shame that we could not fly this amazing machine for all to see.

This is just a sampling of the nefarious actions the Stow boards have created in their “selective” governance. We can’t begin to express our most deep disappointment in the town’s elected and appointed officials. What the heck is happening with this town? Is this the sign of things to come once our WWII Veterans are gone? According to the Stow Planning Board, anything that should be considered educational must have Planning Board approved curriculum and testing at the end.

Such a sad state of affairs. Are you as upset as we are with this? Contact the officials in the town of Stow and let them know what you think. As always, it is the people who support educational foundations like the Collings Foundation that make a difference.

Board of Selectman: e selectmen @ stow-ma.gov e 978.897.4515

Town Administrator: e townadministrator @ stow-ma.gov e 978.897.2927

Building commissioner: e building @ stow-ma.gov e 978-897-2193

Zoning Board of Appeals: e townclrerk @ stow-ma.gov e 978.897.8780

Any questions? Call me directly.

Hunter Chaney
Director of Marketing
Collings Foundation
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2015 9:37 pm
Post subject: Re: Collings Foundation Difficulties

Paul and Loren, Thanks for the update on Collings Foundation. Sorry to hear they are "fighting city hall" when town of Stow, MA should welcome a museum which will bring thousands of people (and dollars), to see the collection. They can always look to relocate to an area with less regulations. At least for now Stow is on my non-visit list. Rick
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2015 11:15 pm
Post subject: Re: Collings Foundation Difficulties

Sounds like a narrow and small-minded political cabal has taken over. Relocate and take all the visitor-generated dollars to a more enlightened and appreciative venue.
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2015 4:50 am
Post subject: Re: Collings Foundation Difficulties

A museum is not educational? That had me shocked until I later read this foundation is in Massachusetts. They need to pack up and move to someplace like Dallas Texas.
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2015 4:12 pm
Post subject: Re: Collings Foundation Difficulties

really a shame..

soldat_ryan @ hotmail.com

Looking for photos of Sherman manufacturer's plates
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 02, 2015 12:20 pm
Post subject: Re: Collings Foundation Difficulties

Well, as always, there's more to the story . . .

Apparently the property is currently zoned residential and there is an existing neighborhood surrounding the property. In order to change the zoning classification (I guess the normal process has failed) the Foundation is attempting to use a Massachusetts law or the like that allows a zoning board's decision to be overridden when the new development is for an "educational" facility. From the context of the two articles I read, this exemption must have originated from a school's plan to expand into a residential neighborhood that was held up by a zoning board and ultimately overridden by the state. To prevent abuse, the exemption includes a specific list of criteria that the planned development must meet, e.g. a curriculum, trained staff, and testing. Clearly the intention of the criteria listing is to prevent, for example, a garbage dump from building in a residential neighborhood and claiming that a picture board out front showing how garbage decomposes makes the dump an "educational" facility.

I don't think the Foundation's plan will succeed, and ultimately they will probably be better served by moving to a location that is already zoned appropriately for their purposes.

Anyhoo, here's two articles I found:


And as you can see at the end of the second article, the board is NOT favorably impressed by comments and emails by people who don't live in the affected community.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 04, 2015 2:06 pm
Post subject: Re: Collings Foundation Difficulties

I find it interesting that their flight operations have been impacted also. Their airport is in a residential zoned area? I don't see a runway at that location. As Kurt says there appears to be more to the story.

I am on our local Planning and Zoning Board and understand the sometimes narrow definitions that exceptions have to fall in. And there is a certain amount of frustration with folks from outside the community coming in and telling us we should do this or we should do that. Especially when it is in direct opposition to what local residents (who have to pay the bills) want.

Bob Smart ([email protected])
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 04, 2015 11:15 pm
Post subject: Re: Collings Foundation Difficulties

The local airfield is too small for most of the CF flight operations. The B-17, B-24, B-25 and P-51 are usually touring the USA and the Me-262 replica, F-4, F-110 and A-4 are all based out of Houston. The Stow airfield is used for some observation planes based there.

I'm really hoping that things can be worked out. A publicly accessible collection of AFVs in the USA would be terrific.
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