A Fall Town Meeting is set for Monday, October 16 starting at 7:00PM at the Memorial School. All registered voters are highly encouraged to attend. 11 articles are slated for debate and votes. A summary of the 11 articles are contained in the Selectmen’s October Newsletter that has been sent to each household. The complete text of the articles can be found on the Town’s web site and will be handed out at the meeting.
The first four articles deal with amendments to our zoning regulations and require a two thirds majority vote to pass. Article 1 seeks to make it easier for owners of nonconforming buildings or lots to expand as long as the project falls below the new thresholds proposed. The Planning Board and the Zoning Board of Appeals have worked together to advance this amendment which is also supported by the Board of Selectmen.
Article 2 is also is supported by the Planning Board and the Selectmen. It proposes a temporary moratorium on retail marijuana establishments in order to give the Town time to develop appropriate regulations for this new use. Article 3 modifies the term of office for ZBA members from 5 years to 3, and Article 4 updates the Flood Plain District by referencing new maps that were adjusted at the Town’s request.
Article 5 asks voters to approve dedicating three small town owned properties as conservation land under the control of the Conservation Commission. The three properties are located in the undeveloped northwest corner of the Town and were acquired by the town through the property tax foreclosure process. The Conservation Commission views these lands as good candidates for permanent conservation purposes. The Selectmen agree. However, the Planning Board feels more study is needed before these properties are permanently conserved.
Article 6 proposes minor updates to the Affordable Housing Trust bylaw voters approved 2 years ago. The updates, in part, track recent changes in state law. The updates also clarify the relationship between the Trust and the Town.
Two citizen petition articles are presented in Articles 7 (eliminating parking on Beach Street east of Tappen and other roads in this area) and Article 8 (eliminating kennels in town, capping the number of dogs a household can have at 4.) These two articles have strong advocates both for and against passage and promise to garner lively debate. (See my article of September 14 on the Town’s web site for further discussion on these two articles.)
Article 9 proposes a new Town Bylaw that establishes construction hours from 7:00AM until 6:00PM Monday through Saturday. Exceptions include emergencies, occasional use of homeowner’s domestic power equipment, and certain municipal work if necessary (for example, construction that needs to work around the tides.)
Finally, Articles 10 and 11 relate to town finances. In Article 10, voters are being asked to create a capital stabilization fund. Creating such a fund would allow us to accumulate funds for future capital needs. It takes a two thirds majority to create the fund and to withdraw funds from the fund. A simple majority is needed to put dollars into the fund. The fund can be a helpful tool as we anticipate how best to finance our many infrastructure projects. In Article 11, the proposal is to change the threshold for when we go through a formal bidding process to sell surplus town equipment. The current threshold of $50 means we are spending more on the advertisements required for public bidding then we recoup in the sale of the surplus equipment. The proposal is to track the threshold stipulated state law, currently at $10,000.
As you prepare for the upcoming Town Meeting feel free to send me any questions you might have. Please plan to attend on the 16th to lend your voice in the governance of our town.