Special Town Meeting at a Glance: Articles on ZBA, Kallander Field, and Saturday Town Meetings

Tonight’s Special Town Meeting will convene at Trottier Middle School at 7:00 pm. Here’s what you should know.

Signing in

You must be a voter to participate. There will be signs asking you to have your license out for scanning to check in. (If you don’t have one one, they will look up your name in the system. The scanning is just to make voter check in quicker.) Voters will be given a card to hold up for voting (in the color de jour for voting tonight.) Be sure to keep it with you. 

If you have children, you can bring them along. The Town is offering free babysitting.

I’m hoping everyone who cares about the issue can make it. But for those of you who can’t, Southborough Access Media will be broadcasting live. You can view that on Verizon Ch 37 & Charter Ch 192, or on their streaming website.

I’ll also be tweeting from the auditorium tonight. (Follow @mysouthborough or #SboroSTM18.)

Of course, you can’t weigh in on any of the important votes from home. So, here’s a reminder of the issues that voters will be deciding on.

What’s at stake

There are 5 Articles on the Warrant. Only one of them is sponsored by the Town (presuming it did get officially sponsored last night.) The other Articles are via Citizen’s Petitions.

For the full Warrant, click here. Below are my summaries of each Article, links to past coverage, and the votes required to pass each. 

Articles 1-3 relate to zoning amendments and the Zoning Board of Appeals. You can read more background here and here.

Article 1: Citizen ‘s Petition: Amend Town Code and/or Zoning Bylaw – ZBA Quorum (2/3 approval required)

The main purpose is to clarify or amend the Town Code to confirm that the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) has a 4 member quorum. It also looks to make a prior version of the board’s rules that was adopted in 1974 (and had been listed in the Town Code until this Spring) a permanent part of the code.  

Article 2: Citizen ‘s Petition:Require future changes to ZBA rules be subject to Town Meeting approval (2/3 approval required)

The stated purpose of Article organizers was to stop the ZBA from “unwinding” Article 1 (if it passes) by adopting new rules. (The organizers may support disposing of this Article if they are convinced that the board can’t do that.)

Article 3: Amend Article III of Zoning Code – Appeal Process (Town sponsored, 2/3 approval required)

This Article is to eliminate the ability of residents and businesses to file an appeal with the ZBA to an action by the Planning Board related to Site Plan Review. Instead, any appeals would head straight to court. Currently, the bylaw allows both options. This Article was defeated at Annual Town Meeting. At the time there was some confusion over the wording of the amendment on the floor. That made it unclear whether voters were opposed to the concept or unsure of the amendment wording.

(Note: To bring this to Town Meeting, the Planning Board needs to vote in favor of it and write a report to Town Meeting. They were scheduled to meet on that issue last night. I plan to check in with the Town today. If that didn’t happen, I’ll update the post.)

Article 4: Citizen’s Petition: Recreation Facilities – Repair to Kallander Field (2/3 approval required)

This Article is to approve borrowing $248,300 for capital repair/maintenance of the grass recreation playing field.  It includes design and construction of drainage improvements on the
field, around the field and on abutting field.

The Article was initially brought to Annual Town Meeting (at slightly lower figure) where it was defeated. The Recreation Commission blames questions raised the day of the meeting that they didn’t have time to address. Members decided to bring it back via Citizen’s Petition based on outreach from residents after the meeting. For more background, click here and here.

Article 5: Citizen ‘s Petition: Move ATM to Saturdays (simple majority required)

This Article is to increase participation of voters by making the meeting more accessible. Currently, meetings frequently run to late hours on weeknights. The change would shift the opening of Town Meeting from the first Monday evening in April to a Saturday in March at 1:00 pm. For more background, click here.

(image from Town website)

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The Voters Voice
4 years ago

Please vote “YES” on Article 1 (Reinstate the ZBA Quorum). . .and here’s why:

1) THIS IS YOUR MEETING — This Special Town Meeting was called by the CITIZEN / VOTERS – this is YOUR meeting and opportunity to make a difference.

2) MORE IS BETTER – in terms of decision making on behalf of the town. Keep the long established, publicly published quorum requirement part of the code – this has always been the public’s understanding of the quorum. It is a CONTRACT with the citizenry and what has been in practice for decades.

3) NO MATTER WHAT YOU HEAR TONIGHT – VOTE “YES” FOR ARTICLE 1. This article has been examined by legal experts and a well researched legal opinion has been issued. Do NOT listen to those who will seek to confuse you with their stupid, fear-mongering rhetoric.

4) THE ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE – has the final say. The AG’s office reviews the text of any Citizen Warrant Articles and approves or disapproves. DON’T BE FOOLED – VOTE “YES”

Thank you!

North Sider
4 years ago

Please if you’re going to try to dictate how people vote, use your real name so we can have a conversation about your reasoning.

Concerned Voter
4 years ago
Reply to  North Sider

Not it at all. Focus on message. Same reason you use a pen name.
All the information was available at Special Town Meeting via slides and materials.

The voters decided as they always do.

As always, any information, including the above — is under the category “Thank you for your consideration!”

North Sider
4 years ago

Disagree, to each his/her own.

Kelly Roney
4 years ago

Are the Voters Voice and Concerned Voter the same person? Is one a sock puppet for the other?

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