Get ready for Monday night’s Special Town meeting

by beth on October 4, 2013

Post image for Get ready for Monday night’s Special Town meeting

Above: 2011 Southborough Town Meeting (photo by Susan Fitzgerald)

Monday night, at 7:00 pm, the Town of Southborough will be holding a Special Town Meeting at Trottier Middle School. (Of course if you read this blog regularly, you already know that.)

All residents registered to vote in Southborough are encouraged to attend. (I hope I’ll see you there.)

To help you prepare, below are brief overviews of the warrants. I am also including the information I have on public positions (to the best of my knowledge).

Most of these are uncontroversial, but there are two exceptions: Articles 1 and 7.

Article 1: Medical Marijuana by-law, ammendment to the zoning code

  • The warrant article was proposed by the Planning Board “is consistent with bylaws passed by other communities in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for the same purpose, and similar language has been previously approved by the Attorney General’s Office.”
  • If passed, medical marijuana dispenseries would be restricted to adult business zones.
  • If it doesn’t pass, dispensaries will be allowed in any commercial business zone.
  • Unless a last minute compromise is brokered, you can expect controversy over this item:
    • This has been publicly opposed by the Board of Health (and some residents who attended Planning Board public hearings). Objections include: unfairly stigmatizing the facility, relegating the site to the edges of town, and that zoning constraints would effectively eliminate any place for a dispensery to go (or possibly limits to one small area.)
    • The Planning Board wants to avoid a dispensary being proposed in an area of town that could be considered a problem (For example, downtown, East Main Street). According a report today by The Metrowest Daily News, the board made a revision this week to change the restricted radius from homes, schools, churches, daycares and parks from 1,000 ft to 500 ft. But this did not assuage Board of Health Chair Louis Fazen, who suggested expanding the zone to Route 9.
    • I missed the last Board of Selectmen meeting, but as of September 17, the BOS hadn’t taken a position. (Though, Selectmen Bill Boland did publicly object to the idea that the restriction would stigmatize a facility. He pointed out that the adult business zone doesn’t include adult entertainment.)

Article 2: Amendments to the Personnel Salary Administration Plan and Personnel By-law

  • If approved, the article would “incorporate those employees who were formally clerical union employees [SEIU] into the SAP bylaw as non-union employees, as well as make other minor changes, including revising pay schedules”.
  • Sponsored by the Personnel Board and supported by both BOS and the Advisory Committee.

Article 3: Approval of funding for Article 2

  • If approved, the article would “provide the funding of pay increases and other agreed upon benefits for former clerical union employees”.
  • Proposed by the Personnel Board and supported by both BOS and the Advisory Committee.
  • At the September 17th BOS Meeting, this measure was estimated at $18,240.

Article 4: Appropriation of $338,000 from Madison Place mitigation funds to upgrade Southborough’s Public Safety CAD communication system and consoles

  • If approved, the article would allow Southborough Police and Fire Department to proceed with a project to replace the outdated Computer Aided Dispatch communication system. (You can see yesterday’s post for more detail on why.)
  • Proposed by Board of Selectmen, supported by the Advisory Committee and  the Zoning Board of Appeals (which originally brokered the deal as part of their 40b project approval.) 

Article 5: Acceptance of Barn Lane as a public way

  • If approved, the article would “accept Barn Lane as a public way; its construction and subsequent maintenance complies with the town rules and regulations and as such may now be accepted as a permanent public way in the town.”
  • Proposed by the Planning Board and supported by the Advisory Committee
  • This is unlikely to garner controversy, but the potential is there.
    • None of the public statements I’ve seen oppose accepting the street. Most have urged not to hold up street adoption for what are viewed as unrelated issues with the open space.
    • However, this has been linked with open space parcel issues for Barn Hollow, which is controversial. And since this item comes up before the vote on that article, it is possible some voters will be wary.
    • As of September 17, BOS hadn’t formed a recommendation.

Article 6: Acceptance of Barn Lane as a public way

  • Identical to Article 5, with same issues, just replace “Barn Lane” with Nipmuc Lane. (Nipmuc is an offshoot of Barn Lane.)

Article 7: Acceptance of land parcel off Fishier Road and Barn Lane as open space

  • If accepted, the disputed open land parcel in the Barn Hollow neighborhood would officially become land owned by the town as Open Space.
  • Proposed by the Planning Board, “To accept as open space a 7,657 acre parcel of land off Nipmuc Lane. This was part of the conditions of the Barn Hollow subdivision approval by the Planning Board on November 5, 2001.”
  • I do expect controversy on this one. Town boards are currently split on how to proceed. You can read more about that in this morning’s post.

Article 8: Acceptance of Blendon Woods Drive as a public way

  • If approved, the article would “accept Blendon Woods Drive as a public way; its construction and subsequent maintenance complies with the town rules and regulations and as such may now be accepted as a permanent public way in the town.”
  • Proposed by the Planning Board and supported by BOS and the Advisory Committee.

Article 9: Amendments to Zoning By-law

  • If approved “this warrant would amend selected areas of the Town’s current Zoning Bylaw to bring it into compliance with current Massachusetts law, as interpreted by various court rulings, but would make no other Bylaw changes”.
  • Proposed by citizen’s petition.
  • Since the Planning Board’s major project to overhaul the zoning by-laws has been delayed, this is supported by BOS, the Advisory Committee, and even the Planning Board.

Article 10: Change the reporting authority for the Town Planner

  • Originally proposed by citizen petition, the petition leader (Leo Bartolini) now plans to withdraw this article at the meeting.
  • The petition was originated based on the idea that the resource of Town Planner should be shared by the Town and not an exclusive resource of the Planning Board. The article would shift supervising authority to the BOS.
  • Since then, a compromise was agreed upon. Both the Planning Board and the BOS voted to adopt an agreement that allows the BOS to share the resource. (To read more, see my September 6 post on the agreement.)

Article 11: Approval of funds to update the Town Code

  • Assuming that Articles 1, 2, and/or 9 pass, the Town Code will need to be revised to reflect these changes. (And it’s a safe assumption that at least two of those Articles will pass.)
  • Proposed by the Town Clerk and supported by the BOS and Advisory Committee.
  • At the September 17 BOS Meeting, the cost was estimated as up to $1,600.

For the full warrant, click here.

1 withheld October 5, 2013 at 11:48 AM

A conservative but balanced and fair approach:

1. YES – I guess by MA law it has to happen and this is the best we can hope for. Literally im Marlborough the area smells like a POT factory in the parkeing lot.
2. YES – get the unions out and then pay the workers what they are worth. I dont think we need the federal or state budgets, benefits and salaries in little old Southborough. The Federal and state governement have eniough problems with SEIU and how they assisted in getting Obama elected.
3. NO – No one out side of Wall Street has had a raise. We cant pay the additional $700 a year out tax bill just came. It has to stop.
4. Yes – This system is a relic and i am surprised it is still functional at all. Literally the parts are the same parts used in the very first US Space Mission.
5. NO – not in compliance
6. No – not in compliance
7. YES
8. YES
9. YES
10. YES
11. YES

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