Residents collecting signatures to clearly compel Special Town Meeting

Some of you may be confused by new petition circulating that looks a lot like a petition you signed before.

Last week, I shared news that a Special Town Meeting would be held this spring based on signatures collected over Easter. It turns out, that was premature. 

On Friday, voters who organized a Citizen’s Petition for an Article on the Zoning Board of Appeals rules and quorum learned that selectmen would not be scheduling the meeting. The decision was made by Board of Selectmen Chair Dan Kolenda, not the full board.

Over Easter weekend, residents had collected signatures on a Petition that called for the Warrant Article reaffirming/clarifying the Town Code and/or Zoning Bylaw on the ZBA quorum:

Citizen’s Petition for Town Meeting Warrant Article. . .

We the undersigned registered voters of the Town of Southborough, Massachusetts, require that the Board of Selectmen of the Town of Southborough place the following article on the warrant for the next Southborough Town Meeting (either Special Town Meeting or Annual Town Meeting—whichever occurs earlier, or Special Town Meeting within the Town Meeting, if possible)

Last week, Special Town Counsel informed officials that the language used did not compel a meeting. It simply asked for the Article to be included on the Warrant of the next Town Meeting.

It wasn’t submitted in time to be added to the Annual Town Meeting that opens tonight. And with no Special Town Meeting planned, it didn’t specify that one needs to be called.

Initially, residents were told that they could still ask the Board of Selectmen to call a Special Town Meeting on the issue. But later that day, Town Administrator Mark Purple informed organizer Marnie Hoolahan that Chair Kolenda decided that would not be an option:

Dan is not willing to put anything before the Board beyond what is included in the citizens petition that was presented to residents and then submitted to and accepted by the Town Clerk’s office. He feels that having any board make changes to a citizens petition would be setting a dangerous precedent for any citizens petition that comes before the Board moving forward. To that end, if you want to specifically require the Board to call a special town meeting, a citizens petition should be put forward to the residents and then submitted with that specific language.

Currently, residents are working to collect signatures on a new version of the petition which would clearly compel a meeting be scheduled this spring:

Citizen’s Petition To Require the Town to Have a Special Town Meeting. . .

We the undersigned registered voters of the Town of Southborough, Massachusetts, require that the Board of Selectmen of the Town of Southborough have a Special Town Meeting and place the following article on the warrant

Expect to see them with clipboards outside of Town Meeting tonight. 

Click here to read the related Letter to the Editor by Hoolahan.*

[Editor’s Note: I posted the wrong version of the letter for most of yesterday which sent to email subscribers last night. So if you read it before 7:51 pm last night or via the daily email, you may want to check out the updated version.]

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