Vote on zoning changes could be delayed again

Debate on a proposed overhaul to the town’s zoning code has been heating up lately, but it now looks like a vote on the changes may be pushed off until the fall.

Chairman of the Board of Selectmen John Rooney said last night he recently sent a letter to Town Clerk Paul Berry asking to hold a Special Town Meeting on the zoning code in the second week of June. Berry responded on Tuesday, saying that holding a town meeting in June would be challenging due to various scheduling conflicts, reported Rooney. Instead, Berry recommended holding the meeting in the fall.

Selectmen did not indicate last night whether they would push back on Berry’s request to delay the meeting, but Rooney said if the Special Town Meeting does not happen in June, it would likely be pushed back to September at the earliest.

If delayed, it will be the third such postponement in the effort to get the zoning code updated, an effort that began more than four years ago. Originally the town’s Planning Board hoped to bring the overhaul before voters at a Special Town Meeting in the fall of 2012, but decided to target a winter timeframe after various town boards and committees pushed back saying the board had not provided them with enough information to effectively review the code.

The Planning Board has been holding public hearings on the new zoning code since last summer to gather feedback, ultimately updating their schedule again to focus on a summer 2013 Special Town Meeting. Those public hearings wrapped up on Monday of this week, but the Planning Board indicated they would still accept written feedback from any residents who wished to offer it.

In discussing the process at their meeting last night, Selectman Bill Boland said the Planning Board would consider all the feedback from the public hearings and incorporate any necessary changes into a final document that will be voted on by Town Meeting.

Despite recent opposition to the proposed changes, Rooney said he remains hopeful the Planning Board will come out with a proposal everyone can live with.

“We have the spring and summer to bring everyone together,” Rooney said. “That’s enough time in my mind to remain optimistic.”

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Donna McDaniel
11 years ago

Paul Berry has a good reason not to want a Special TM in June, namely that we have a state primary for the Senatorial election that month. Both events take a lot of preparation and involve a number of people, including volunteers.

I’d also suggest that June is not a good time for a Special Meeting, what with many school events, including graduation, and, toward the end of the month… vacation time for many. It’s hard enough to get a quorum as it is and, while there are many people following the proposed changes closely, sad to say, I do believe that there is not wide interest throughout the town; so how hard would it be to get a quorum?

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