On Tuesday night, selectmen and Town Meeting Moderator Paul Cimino followed up on a discussion to postpone Annual Town Meeting. They agreed the meeting would be postponed until the Town could reasonably hold the meeting outdoors. The date has yet to be settled, but according to the Community Advocate it will likely be in May or June.
On January 5th, Cimino called into the Board of Selectmen meeting to raise the possibility of an ATM postponement. At that time, the group agreed to look into the status of regulations and follow up this week. You can read more details of that discussion in the Community Advocate here.
For some Articles, it means more than a year delay. Last year, proponents and voters agreed to postpone 13 Articles to the following Town Meeting.* Those were Articles that were likely to require discussion/debate and were deemed not to be urgent. (Another consideration for postponing some of the Articles was proponents’ inability to hold public forums last spring with Q&A to prepare voters in advance.)
At the time that plan was proposed, the public was told the Town would hold a Special Town Meeting in the fall when it was safer to convene. Town officials ultimately decided the Fall Meeting wasn’t viable, tabling Articles to the next Annual Town Meeting. 2020 Articles impacted include proposed projects to be funded by the Community Preservation Act, zoning bylaw amendments, and Citizen Petition initiatives.*
On the brighter side, the delay gives Town officials some breathing room to strategize lowering proposed budgets. Recent preliminary budget talks indicated that this will be a more difficult than usual year.
A tweet from the Town on Tuesday night informed the public to stay tuned for future discussions on the new date:
The Board of Selectmen have agreed tonight it is not possible to have a Town Meeting on March 20, 2021. Stay tuned for continued deliberations on a new date. #localgovtatwork #SafetyFirst #townmeetingtimes pic.twitter.com/PNwOyEynyo
— Town of Southborough (@17common) January 20, 2021
*Technically, 14 Articles were postponed last year, but Article 1 was just the “Reading of Reports”. The other 13 were:
Article 19: Appropriation from CPA Funds – Kallander Field Construction
Article 20: Appropriation from CPA Funds – St. Mark’s Church Bell Tower Renovation
Article 22: Amend Town Code – Increase Qualification Period for Appointments
Article 23: Adopt MGL to Reduce Speed Limit in Thickly Settled Areas
Article 24: Adopt MGL to Designate Safety Zones
Article 25: Adopt MGL to Implement Local Meals Tax
Article 26: Amend Town Code – Southborough Public Accessibility Committee
Article 27: Adopt Mass General Law for Saturday Office Hours
Article 28: Amend Town Code – Zoning – Miscellaneous Provisions
Article 29: Amend Town Code – Zoning – Outdoor Illumination
Article 30: Amend Town Code – Zoning – Site Plan Review
Article 31: Citizen Petition – Amend Town Code: Noise Bylaw
Article 32: Citizen Petition – Amend Town Code: Reduce Plastic Waste
The postponement of Articles 28-30 booted them back to the Planning Board to allow “for further study” more public hearings before they come back to Town Meeting.
Updated (1/25/21 9:38 am): The Town posted an announcement of the intended postponement from Moderator Paul Cimino. (You can read that here.) In the announcement he clarifies that his official postponement of the meeting needs to wait “until a firm new date, time and place are established”.