Main menu:


Subscribe by email:

Delivered by FeedBurner



Site search

Town Meeting Session #9 – Last Session

I take notes during Town Meeting. They are not official in any way. As I listen to people speak, I scribble notes. I’m sure that, at times, I mishear or misunderstand the speaker, but my notes represent what I hear at the time. I then publish the notes every night after the meeting. I do go back and make a few edits as errors are pointed out to me.

I do not try to reproduce my entire notepad for this online version. Sometimes I relay a quote from a specific speaker. Most of the time I only summarize the discussion. At points I give a purely personal opinion; those are clearly labeled like this: Personal note.

The Finance Committee meeting ran late, and I didn’t get down to the Town Meeting floor until 8:22. I know they sang the anthem, because I could hear that! Any other announcements were lost. I got there in time to hear the start of Article 2.

Article 2 – Reports, continued.

  • Clarissa Rowe gave the report of the cemetery space study committee.
  • Mary Fallon gave the report of the Committee on Disability. She read the whole written report, which drives me crazy. She even said she was going to “read it into the minutes.” It just doesn’t have to work that way! The written report is there for us to read. The presentation can just give highlights. It’s much faster that way.

Article 16 – Subdivision Control. [8:33] Board of Selectmen Chair Clarissa Rowe explained that this wasn’t full subdivision control – it was a narrower set of rules. It only applies to subdivisions of 2-5 units when there isn’t enough road frontage to divide “by right.” She said it was for protecting neighbors from flooding and other problems resulting from development that used to be thought impossible, like on ledge. She said it was approved unanimously by the Board of Selectmen and by 3-1 by the Redevelopment Board. Attorney Wickersham spoke to the rules briefly. There were several questions about the workload for the redevelopment board, the waivers that might be granted, and how long the board should have to act. Clarissa Rowe tried to respond to many of these questions, and many statements that weren’t questions at all. She was just jumping up to the microphone and talking when she had something to say. The moderator wasn’t asking her to answer a question; she was just weighing in. It was inappropriate. She should wait her turn to talk, just like everyone else. Jim Doherty proposed an amendment to give Town Meeting jurisdiction over the underlying regulations. The Historic District Commission was OK with the plan. Selectman Annie LaCourt described several situations where the Board of Selectmen had been powerless to act under the current rules. [9:00] ARB Member Chris Loretti said that he liked the concept, but had voted against the text because it was flawed. He proposed three amendments. The first would extend the deadline for the ARB to act from 60 to 90 days. The second would be to limit the “grandfather” rights of developers who propose plans, then have the rules change. The third was to change the effective date of the legislation. Diane Mahon spoke in favor. She was nervous about handing the power to the ARB, and said that the Selectmen could take it back in the future if that seemed wise. Speakers against said that it was too complex, not well thought out, and thought there should be a committee study. Tommy Caccavaro suggested it was “crafty” that the DPW Director and Building Inspector weren’t present. His suggestion of inappropriate action on the selectmen’s part were unwelcome to me. I don’t understand why he feels the need to accuse people of malicious activity. Speakers in favor said it was a well-scoped plan that addressed a real problem. The question was moved [10:01]. All four amendments failed by voice vote, and the selectmen’s motion carried 132-14.

Article 47 – Pension Obligation Bonds. Treasurer Stephen Gilligan moved the language Finance Committee had just approved. Alan Jones provided the FinCom perspective. There were a couple speakers who think the whole PoB idea is a bad, risky idea and said to vote no. A couple speakers were in favor, focusing on the fact that this is only to permit special legislation, and deferring an actual decision on PoBs to the future. A motion to terminate debate failed. Adam Auster asked if this was a bylaw. After some confusion, it was determined that the conditions attached to the vote were not binding unless it was a bylaw.

Allan Tosti moved to table Article 47 [10:38]. This move saved the day, as far as finishing the meeting went. We moved on to the remaining articles while the bylaw was sorted out.

Article 30 – Margaret Spengler. Selectman Rowe gave a resolution to create a committee. Passed.

Article 46 – OPEB consultant. Allan Tosti explained this is to study ways to manage this obligation. Passed.

Article 50 – Collective Bargaining. Allan Tosti presented the new appropriations with the recent negotiations. Passed unanimously.

Article 51 – Future Collective Bargaining. Passed unanimously.

Article 67 – Local Option Taxes. No action.

Article 47, again. Stephen Gilligan made an amendment to make the restrictions into a bylaw. There was discussion of the safeguards included in the proposal. The amendments all passed. The treasurer’s text was approved, 113-14.

Allan Tosti announced vacancies on the Finance Committee in precincts 6, 17, 19, and 21. Town Counsel John Maher got a standing ovation on his retirement. Moderator John Leone got an ovation for his first year’s performance.

Town Meeting was dissolved.


Comment from Joyce Radochia
Time: May 29, 2008, 12:10 pm

Hi Dan,
Thank you for posting your town meeting notes. I have been reading them regularly but have not commented before this. While I can appreciate some speakers’ intensity about their issues I find posturing and gratuitous anger unnecessary, irritating, and at times insulting. There has been a lot of that this year. Maryellen Loud told me that Brian Sullivan had told many of the department heads including herself that they did not need to attend town meeting last night.No conspiracy in that I don’t think. So again, thank you for your coherent and lucid notes on “democracy in action” in Arlington.
See you next year.
Regards, Joyce