Special Town Meeting Update: Article 1 organizer submitting amendment (and rebuttal to Town’s counsel), Planning supports Article 3

by beth on May 22, 2018

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Above: In 2016, there was a big turnout to vote on Articles that included ones related to the ZBA and Park Central. Some of tonight’s Articles touch on the same hot buttons – which could mean another full house. Citizen Petition organizers are certainly hoping so. (image from SAM video)

Last minute updates on tonight’s Special Town Meeting. (For other details on tonight’s meeting, which opens at 7:00 pm, see my overview post from this morning.)

Planning Board update

The Planning Board met last night to write their required report supporting Article 3. They will hold their continued public hearings on Articles 1-3 as part of their meeting tonight at Trottier, prior to STM. Click here for the agenda and materials packet. (Their “report”, a one page memo, is on page 18.)

Article 1 update

Organizer Marnie Hoolahan asked me to share a letter to the editor this afternoon. In it, she shared her plan to amend the Article tonight along with her attorney’s rebuttal to the Town’s legal opinion.

In reading it, I realized that in past stories, I’ve largely overlooked a secondary goal of language in Article 1.

I previously shared that petitioners want to confirm a 4 person quorum as a permanent rule in the Town Code for the Zoning Board of Appeals. Because that is the main focus, I skimmed over other sections, including clarifying the procedure for handling conflict of interest issues.

As part of petitioner’s effort, they resurrected the ZBA rules that had been listed in the Town Code from 1974 through earlier this spring as the basis of the Article.

Based on statements in public meetings and the new legal opinion, it seems that the Town’s counsel referred to parts of the 1974 text as “antiquated” and criticized other passages as either redundant or too stringent. Much of that appears to relate to the section on conflict of interest.

Hoolahan apparently responded to some of the criticisms as constructive. She is proposing an amendment purported to fix those problems. (You can see that here. The first page shows the original, second is redlined to highlight changes, and the third shows what the final version would look like.)

In areas where her counsel disagreed with the Town, she provided a rebuttal. You can read that here. (As she promises in her letter, both documents will also be available as handouts at the meeting.)

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