October 21, 2023
Special Town Meeting November 13th
By Gregory T. Federspiel
A fall Special Town Meeting is slated for Monday, November 13th beginning at 6:30PM at the Memorial School gymnasium. Debate and votes will be taken on 10 or so articles. A few of the articles are not yet finalized but they will be by the end of next week at which time the official warrant will be posted. Articles will likely cover the following topics.
Parking Bylaw Amendments: Our current parking bylaw needs updating. Some of the details, like where resident stickers are to be placed, are outdated given the changes that have been made in vehicles (for example, tinted side windows that make it too difficult to see a sticker.) The proposed amendments will provide greater flexibility and allow for the Select Board to make adjustments as necessary.
Authorization for Community Center Building Lease: The Town is negotiating a long-term lease with Harbor Points Associates for the land on which the Community Center building resides. Voter approval is needed for any Town interest in real estate. Securing the lease will allow the Town to move forward in a new partnership with the private, non-profit Community Center, Inc. sharing the use of the building.
Paramedic Response SUV for the Fire Department: The Fire Department has a need for a nimble, non-transport paramedic response vehicle to respond to a simultaneous second ambulance call. While the Department has the option of using the large pumper truck, Engine 1, for this purpose, taking the pumper out for a medical call leaves the town vulnerable if a fire call were also to come in. We have unused funds from the money voters appropriated for a new ladder truck. Voters will be asked to re-allocate up to $62,000 of these unused funds for the new SUV.
Extend Parking along Beach Street past Tappen for a few more spaces: There is a need for a crosswalk just past the railroad tracks across Beach Street connecting 40 Beach Street and the Train Station to Reed Park. Doing so will require the removal of a couple of parking spaces. To not decrease the number of parking spaces, a few new ones can be added along Beach Street south of Tappen Street. A few years ago, some 30 new parking spaces were added south of Tappen, but voters approved a new bylaw prohibiting these spaces. This article seeks to amend this prohibition by allowing a handful of parking spaces in this area.
Cybersecurity Enhancements: Supplemental funds in the $30,000 range are being requested to make additional upgrades to our computer network to better guard against cyber threats. We are part of a multi-town collaborative headed up by the Danvers IT Department and they are recommending some additional measures based on a recent incident in another community.
School District Operational Audit: While details are still being discussed, there is a desire to conduct an audit of the District’s operations to see if additional efficiencies and cost savings can be found. This cost could be shared by Essex and the District. Supplemental funds are needed to have Manchester contribute toward this effort. A final figure is being developed – likely in the $50-$80,000 range
Zoning Amendment: The Planning Board may advance an article to amend the use table in the zoning regulations to remove the provision that carriage buildings and other existing outbuildings can only be occupied by employees of the owner. The public hearing on this is Monday, 10/23.
Finally, three citizen petition articles have been submitted with the requisite number of signatures:
- Zoning amendments to require a ballot vote: If this article is approved, all zoning amendments would need to be approved both “from the floor” at a Town Meeting and also by ballot at a town election. Currently, approval at Town Meeting is sufficient.
- Powder House Hill Parcels and Article 97 restrictions: If this petition article is approved, the Town-owned land comprising Powder House Hill would be encumbered by the constraints imposed by Article 97 of the State Constitution (places additional hurdles to any changes in use of the land.
- Authorize acquisition of the Community Center Building and land: Approval of this petition would authorize the Select Board to acquire by purchase, including through eminent domain, the Community Center and the land on which it resides assuming sufficient funds are also appropriated.