Published in the October 14, 2015 edition
By MAUREEN DOHERTY
LYNNFIELD — A quorum of 175 voters is required to act on the 18 articles that comprise the October Town Meeting warrant next Monday, Oct. 19 at 7:30 p.m. in the middle school auditorium.
The most controversial article is Article 4, a citizens’ petition proposed by Selectman Tom Terranova to amend the 1971 Town Charter by increasing the number of selectmen on the board from three to five.
If a simple majority of voters pass Article 4 a request would be sent to the state Senate and state House of Representatives under the home rule petition to enact an amendment that “a Board of Selectmen of five members shall be elected for three-year overlapping terms.”
Section 2 of the amendment spells out the specifics of the change that would take effect at the town’s annual election in April of 2016. It would require three selectmen to be elected as follows: “two for a three-year term and one for a two-year term. Thereafter, upon expiration of the term of a selectman, his successor shall be elected for a term of three years.”
The third section states: “This act shall take effect upon its passage.”
The current Board of Selectmen voted 2-1 not to recommend passage of Article 4. Selectmen Chairman Phil Crawford and Selectman Chris Barrett do not support the article while Terranova does support it.
Crawford opposed circumventing “the entire ballot process.”
“I have already expressed my displeasure for the way this was presented,” Crawford said, adding, “If we are going to make a change to our charter it should go under a charter review to the town – have some discussions, have a debate, have some other changes.
“A charter change of this type has unintended consequences. Numerous parts of our charter refer to the selectmen and what they do. You have to do a charter review to do any kind of change like this. It is not something that you want to bypass the entire town,” Crawford said, noting that since 200 to 300 people normally attend Town Meeting it could have the effect of “150 people voting on something that’s going to change the entire town.”
Barrett concurred that a change of this significance requires a charter review process “to get input at least over a year … It’s really important that the community really think this one through before we make a decision of this magnitude. I recommend against Article 4.”
The board recommended passage of all other articles on the warrant.
Articles 1-2 are routine articles to take care of overdue bills totaling $2,590 from the prior fiscal year and the transfer of available funds to supplement certain accounts in the current fiscal year. That figure was $265,130 at the Oct. 5 selectmen’s meeting, but Town Administrator Jim Boudreau noted that this figure would change based on a late request to transfer additional funds for police overtime.
Under Article 3, voters will also be asked to raise and appropriate or transfer from available funds $200,000 into the Other Post Employment Benefits Liability Trust Fund.
Boudreau said this sum would double the town’s current OPED funding and he recommended doing so. “We do need to find someone to manage these funds for us,” he said, to get a better yield on the investment.
Terranova said he would like to “see the meals tax funds that we collect” put into a fund or be otherwise earmarked to fund the town’s OPED obligation.
• Article 5 seeks to establish a revolving fund for the Department of Public Works to pay expenses “related to maintenance and upkeep of athletic fields for the fiscal year commencing July 2015.” This fund would be credited with all “field maintenance fees and charges received during the current fiscal year for field use.”
• Article 6 is also related to the new athletic fields complex and seeks to establish a recreation capital trust stabilization fund for “large and/or long-term capital projects, improvements and turf replacement to the town’s synthetic turf fields.”
• Article 7 is a request for $5,000 to “pay outstanding medical bills for a firefighter injured in the line of duty,” Boudreau said. It would be funded from Free Cash to pay medical bills incurred by firefighter Kim Diorio McGonnell, who was injured April 8, 2013.
• Article 8 is a request to adopt a provision of MGL Ch. 41, Section 110A, to allow any public office in town to remain closed on “any or all Saturdays” as if it was a legal holiday.
• Article 9 is a request to revise the dog licensing fees in the town’s general bylaws to $10 for neutered males and spayed females and $15 for intact dogs. It also includes a fine of $10 per dog if the fee is not paid by March of each year.
• Article 10 is a request to renumber and recaption the town’s General Bylaws. The final draft of the document, titled “Lynnfield Recodification – Final Draft” was completed in August 2015 and is available to view in hard copy at the Town Clerk’s office or online via a link on the town’s website.
• Articles 11 and 12 also seek approval by the voters related to this re-codification process.
• Article 13 is a request to authorize both the Board of Selectmen and the Conservation Commission to convey 9,104 square feet of conservation land at 353-385 Broadway to Jeep Kelly Chrysler of the same address for not less than $170,000 in replacement property and cash plus a permanent access easement for the town to the Bow Ridge Conservation Area for recreational purposes along with an easement for five parking spaces for the recreational users of the town’s Bow Ridge property.
The replacement property of equal size would be located in a wetlands area on the adjacent Kelly Nissan property.
If this article passes it will require approval by the state Legislature due to the land’s status as conservation land. Conveyed to the town in 1996, this section of the 2.29 landlocked acres has been used for parking for years.
The town would also be required to accept bids from any interested party under a Request for Proposal (RFP).
• Article 14 requests the voters accept a state law that would enable the Board of Assessors to grant to members of the Mass. National Guard or military reservists on active duty and serving in a foreign country a reduction of all or part of their real and personal property taxes. This article was requested by Selectman Chris Barrett.
Planning Board articles
The final four articles, 15, 16, 17 and 18, were re-submitted by the Planning Board after the second session of last April’s annual Town Meeting failed to achieve a quorum.
• Articles 15, 16 and 17 request voters to enact changes to the town’s Zoning Bylaws concerning standards and definitions for signage throughout town.
• Article 18 is a request by the planning board to amend the definition of an acre of land within the groundwater protection district as 40,000 square feet in the town’s Zoning Bylaws.
Canterbury Road resident Heather Keane asked if the Planning Board articles could be moved up in the warrant since it marks the second attempt to bring these four articles before the voters. She did not want to risk having a lack of a quorum late in the meeting that would prevent action taken on the sign bylaw changes given the pressure the South Lynnfield neighborhoods are under with regard to signage on Route 1.
Crawford said the only way to do so would be through an amendment on Town Meeting floor since the warrant was closed Oct. 2 and publicized. Anyone can make such a request to take an article out of order and the voters decide whether to allow the request. Barrett told Keane he would be happy to make that requested change on Town Meeting floor.