Town Meeting Should Wrap Up In One Night
By: Diana T. Barth
Issues ranging from funds to assist in the conservation of painted ceilings and murals in a historic County Road home to an overlay district, where large ground-mounted solar projects could be sited without a special permit will be coming before voters on Monday.
Officials hope that the necessary quorum of 125 voters will be present at 7 PM Monday in the Bourne High School auditorium, allowing the meeting to begin on time. Voters approved that new quorum number, down from 200, at last May’s Town Meeting.
There will now need to be 100 voters present throughout the evening to keep the meeting open as voters deal with 19 warrant articles.
Those officials are predicting a one-day Special Town Meeting, starting and ending on Monday. The administration’s confidence is so high that selectmen have set a regular meeting for Tuesday.
Officials, including Town Moderator Robert W. Parady, met yesterday afternoon for a pre-Town Meeting discussion with representative of the finance committee and others to decide such things as which articles are essential to the running of the town. Town Administrator Thomas M. Guerino would like to see Article 7, which proposes additions to this fiscal year’s budget, deemed essential, along with Articles 17 and 18, which would give selectmen the right to lease two parcels on the landfill property for outside operations.
That designation means they would be voted on first, with the order of the other warrant articles to be decided by lottery.
The budget additions include the funding needed to start hiring lifeguards and buying supplies for the lifeguard program in June of 2012, before the July 1 start of next fiscal year. That addition is among more than $144,000 in proposed expenditures for items such as a wireless communication system for use in a power outage and extra funding for maintenance of the Bourne Veterans Memorial Community Center.
The two articles that would allow for the leasing of two small areas of the landfill need voter approval before the Department of Integrated Solid Waste Management can send out Request for Proposals from the private companies that have inquired about, among other things, projects that would use the landfill gas that the town operation now collects and burns.
Two zoning bylaw changes are also coming before voters. The Bourne Planning Board is holding a public hearing on one of them this evening. That bylaw would allow large ground-mounted solar photovoltaic systems to be permitted in a designated overlay district without the need for a special permit.
They would, however, need to undergo site plan review, ensuring that any project meets setbacks from residences and conservation land and other requirements All utility connections for the system need to be underground, for example, and the bylaw requires that a bond be posted or other financial surety provided, in case the town needs to remove the structure in the future.
The second bylaw proposal would control the placement of a temporary storage container on residential property, as well as the length of time such a pod or similar container can stay on that property.
The full text on those proposed bylaws is printed in the warrant, which is available at Bourne Town Hall and other locations and is posted online at www.townofbourne.com.
The community preservation committee is requesting approval to use $2,000 to consult with an expert on ways to conserve painted murals and ceilings in the historic 36 County Road homestead of famed marine painter Charles S. Raleigh (1830-1925), whose work can be seen locally at the New Bedford Whaling Museum and the Briggs-McDermott House in Bourne Village.
The fact that the artwork is part and parcel of a private home has raised some concern as to whether the request meets the requirement that a preservation act project be of benefit to the public. Members of the CPC determined that the effort to document, learn about, and possibly save historically significant work met that requirement.
Two other articles have engendered some discussion in advance of next week’s Town Meeting. One would fund the town’s 10-hour-per-week energy coordinator, previously a grant-funded position. Town Administrator Thomas M. Guerino had told selectmen that he intended to extend the contract of the current holder of that position, whose views on wind energy differ from that of at least one member of that board.
The other would create a revolving account for council on aging programs, similar to the one used by the recreation department. Fees generated from council programs would be placed in that account, and expenses paid out of it. Historically, those fees have been paid into, and expended from, accounts maintained by the Friends of the Bourne Council on Aging, the council’s non-profit fundraising arm.
While that financial separation may be legally required, those opposing the creation of that account would like to explore the impact that separation would have on the cooperative decision-making process the town department and its Friends organization have developed over the years before it is approved.
Among other items on the warrant is a long-discussed way to fund the town’s many capital projects. If passed, Article 5 would put any landfill fees over and above the $450,000 that the town uses in preparing its general budget into a specially designated capital expenditure stabilization reserve fund.
Two separate articles would set aside money from the sale of the former Kempton F. Coady School and from the auction of any surplus property and equipment held in this fiscal year, into an account earmarked for the construction of a new Department of Public Works facility.
Article 12 on the warrant would allow the town to put up matching funds if, and when, the town receives a federal grant to restore the Bournedale Herring Run from the US Department of Agriculture’s National Resources and Conservation Service.
Another article would allow selectmen to transfer town-owned property at 143 Old Plymouth Road to the Bourne Affordable Housing Trust “on terms deemed to be in the town’s best interest.”
An article allowing the town to use or borrow money for the improvement of private road, with the understanding that the cost of those betterments would be repaid by the affected Pocasset residents, is on the warrant. So, too, is a request for a perpetual easement for a private septic system that underlies town-owned land; an article to adopt a state law that would allow the town’s collector and treasurer to each receive $1,000 in extra annual compensation as long as they maintain certain state certifications; and a request to transfer some town-owned parcels into the care and custody of the conservation commission.