November 3, 2023
November 13th Special Town Meeting Details
By Gregory T. Federspiel
The warrant is set for the Special Town Meeting scheduled for Monday, November 13, 6:30PM, at the Memorial School. 14 articles are on tap. The warrant along with the proposed bylaw changes can be found on the Town’s website. A special “Q & A” session will be hosted by the Select Board on Tuesday, November 7, 6:30PM, at Town Hall to answer questions residents may have about any of the articles. (This is for answering questions, not debating the merits of any given article – save the debate for November 13!)
Four of the articles seek supplemental funding for the current year’s budget. Article 2 seeks voter approval of $30,000 for additional computer security measures being recommended by our IT collaborative group. Article 3 seeks up to $80,000 for the Town’s share of an operational review of the School District aimed at determining if there are additional opportunities for greater efficiencies and cost savings. In Article 5, approval is sought for $916 to pay expenses from prior fiscal years (state law requires specific voter approval for paying prior year expenses.) And finally, in Article 6, voters will be asked to approve the purchase of a new utility vehicle for the Fire Department using funds left over from the recent appropriation for a new ladder truck. This new vehicle is needed as a non-transport paramedic response vehicle instead of using the larger pumper truck for this purpose.
Four other articles involve amendments to our general and zoning bylaws. Article 1 proposes to change the date of the Annual Town Meeting from the first Monday in April to the fourth Monday in April. The extra three weeks will provide additional time to assemble the most accurate budget numbers possible before asking voters to approve the upcoming fiscal year expenditures. Often it is not until the very end of March that budgets for such items as employee/retiree health insurance are known, making for a difficult scramble to have the right numbers ready for an early April vote.
Article 4 comes to us from the Planning Board and proposes to amend the Table of uses in Section 4.2 of the Zoning Bylaws. Currently existing outbuildings can be used as living space for employees of the owner-occupied property. The proposal would eliminate this restriction and allow anyone to live in the unit after a special permit has been granted by the Zoning Board of Appeals. Short term rentals of the unit would be prohibited.
Articles 9 and 10 seek changes to the parking bylaws. Article 9 would amend the current bylaw by removing the specific location of resident stickers on vehicles allowing the Select Board and staff to specify where the stickers should go (currently the bylaw says on the rear left side window but many of today’s cars have tinted side windows that make seeing the stickers difficult.) The process for obtaining stickers is also made more general to allow adjustments as needed. Also, instead of listing all the streets where resident only parking is permitted, the proposed bylaw has the Select Board determining the list after holding a public hearing. This avoids having to wait until a Town Meeting to adjust the list.
Article 10 seeks to amend the current prohibition on parking along Beach Street east of Tappan Street by allowing two new parking spaces just past Tappan as you head toward the beach. These two spaces would make up for the two spaces that will be lost when a new crosswalk is placed across Beach Street between Harbor’s Point and Reed Park. The crosswalk is needed to better accommodate train travelers in particular. The parking prohibition was recently put into place after the approval of a citizen’s
petition article to remove the 30 or so parking spaces that were added between Tappan and Old Neck Road along Beach Street.
Article 8 asks voters to authorize the Select Board to enter into a renewable, 10-year, nominal cost lease with Harbor’s Point Associates for the use of the Community Center Building. The private, non-profit Manchester Community Center (MCC) is a private, non-profit organization and its lease ended necessitating the need for a new arrangement. The Town has been offered the opportunity to become the new lease holder and will be able to work with the private, non-profit MCC under a shared cost arrangement to continue their use of the building while also expanding the use to new Town uses (public restrooms, regular meeting space, Harbor Master Office, etc.)
Four other articles originated as citizen petition articles – more on these next week.