Quorum of 175 needed; challenge ends Monday’s session
By MAUREEN DOHERTY
LYNNFIELD — The finish line was within sight. With the first 26 miles of the annual Town Meeting marathon behind them on Monday night, the voters had debated their way through 20 out of the first 24 warrant articles.
Only two-tenths of a mile remained in this marathon as the clock approached 10:45 p.m. — and then it happened — a quorum challenge.
In order for the meeting to continue, a minimum of 175 voters needed to be present. Heads were counted and the meeting was 14 voters shy as just 151 remained in the middle school auditorium.
Therefore, the meeting was adjourned immediately by Town Moderator Arthur Bourque. As was announced at the outset of Town Meeting, if the business was not completed on Monday night the meeting would reconvene on Thursday, April 30 at 7:30 p.m. also at the Middle School.
The only four articles remaining are proposals made by the Planning Board to amend the town’s sign bylaw listed as Articles 21 through 24.
If a quorum of 175 voters is not reached on Thursday night then the business of the town cannot commence and a decision will have to be made by town officials whether to reconvene on another night or table the articles until a future Town Meeting.
At the Board of Selectmen’s meeting held prior to Town Meeting on Monday night, both Planning Board Chairman John Faria and Planning Board member Alan Dresios clarified some points regarding the board’s proposed amendments to the sign bylaw.
They explained the intent of these zoning bylaw changes is to protect all sections of the town that currently do not have much protection against intrusive signage, in particular, areas along Salem Street and along Route 1.
In response to an objection raised by MarketStreet developers National Development, in a letter to the Planning Board dated April 15, Faria and Dresios both stated these proposed changes do not affect MarketStreet because that development agreement is governed under a Planned Village Development District (PVDD) as a 40R development and any changes to the PVDD would have to be approved by the state, not the Attorney General’s office.
The confusion around this matter arose because Article 21 states that the “standards would be applicable in all districts.” However, they maintained the PVDD would supersede such requirements for MarketStreet.
Faria further stated that the changes being proposed were based on the town’s PVDD with National Development because MarketStreet currently has more protections than other districts in town. He believes National Development is challenging this proposal to conduct an end run around those already existing restrictions in its PVDD because the Planning Board has already put MarketStreet on notice that some of its signage violates the conditions of the PVDD.
Faria added since the Planning Board does not have any enforcement authority, a next step in the board’s process in dealing with these alleged violations may be for his board to vote to request assistance from the selectmen in getting the signs removed, but this is a separate issue from the zoning changes sought by the board for the rest of the the town under Articles 21-23.
Bring booklets back to meeting
Town Administrator Jim Boudreau has requested that all those who attended Monday night’s session who plan to return on Thursday night remember to bring their yellow Town Meeting warrant booklets with them because only a limited number were printed.
The warrant is also available online via the town’s website at https://www.town.lynnfield.ma.us.
Scenic Roads Bylaw passes
It was the passage of the Scenic Roads Bylaw under Article 19 that ultimately prompted the quorum challenge.
After a brief and spirited debate over the potential merits and drawbacks to the passage of this general bylaw, Bourque called for a hand count of the vote because he determined that the voice vote was too close to call.
Town Counsel Tom Mullen said just a simple majority was needed because it was not a zoning bylaw change.
The bylaw passed by 14 votes on a hand count of 70-56. Since this figure totaled 49 votes shy of the quorum, some voters asked Bourque if that meant the vote would not count.
Bourque stated that the vote would stand because a quorum challenge was not raised by a voter prior to this vote taking place.
This prompted an immediate request by several in the audience to challenge the quorum, at which point Bourque directed a head count to take place which ascertained that just 151 voters remained in the hall.
Drama Fest moved to Friday
Due to the need to reconvene Town Meeting, the Middle School Drama Fest public performance previously scheduled for Thursday night will now be held on Friday, May 1 at 7 p.m. in the LMS auditorium.