May 2011 Town Meeting Recap: Second Night

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Beginning with Article 34, Hopkinton’s annual Town Meeting entered its second night of voting. Article 34, Fire Department Tender Truck, was up for consideration after a reversal of a take no action recommendation from the previous night. After some debate and questions about cost and trade-in values of the old truck, the article passed with a 2/3 majority.

Article 35, for ADA upgrades to Town or School buildings, passed with only a few dissenting votes. Article 36, Middle School Wiring, also passed, but not until a proposed amendment was ruled out of order. Selectman candidate Frank D’Urso wanted to amend the article to change the word “data” to “wireless” claiming that wireless is the way to go. After much confusion and discussion, Board of Appeals Chairman Tom Garabedian spoke against amendments being made on the fly and suggested that they should not be accepted. The moderator concurred and the amendment was ruled out of order.

Article 38 included Community Preservation Recommendations. In addition to allocating funds into the various categories (i.e, open space, etc), the total allocation of $862,500 also included $250,000 for the Hopkinton Center for the Arts. Kelly Grill, Executive Director of Enter Stage Left (ESL) Theater and Hopkinton Community Endowment representative Nadine Stewart presented the plan for the expanded arts center which will bring together several cultural entities in town, including ESL and the Cultural Arts Alliance (CAA). The $250,000 contribution from the Community Preservation Committee will be matched by private donations to complete the renovations of the CAA barn. The article passed with a clear majority.

Article 41, Tobacco Use by Minors, sponsored by Hopkinton Youth Commission, was the next article that involved a presentation and discussion. Jane Roach of the beFree Project explained that the goal of the proposed by-law change was to reduce tobacco usage by persons under the age of eighteen. While it is illegal for minors to buy or sell tobacco products, it is not illegal to use them. The proposed by-law would change that. Several town departments, including the Board of Selectmen, the Board of Health, and the Hopkinton Police Department support the proposed change. Selectman Michelle Gates spoke against the proposed by-law change, saying she preferred to leave the decision regarding smoking with parents and that she did not see this as an issue for the police department. There were additional comments both in favor and against the proposed by-law change. The article passed with a clear majority.

Articles 43-51 represented the articles sponsored by the Planning Board. Most of the articles passed with little discussion. Article 45, Commercial Solar Photovoltaic Installations sparked some debate and former selectman Ron Clark proposed an amendment to limit these installations to commercial and business districts only. Chairman of the Planning Board Joe Markey explained that that restriction was considered and rejected. A standing vote was required for the amendment which eventually failed 99-94, but the discussion for and against continued until the question was moved. A standing vote was also required for the original article. The article eventually failed 124-72 as it did not meet the 2/3 majority.

Discussion of Article 53, Library Project Preliminary Design, did not begin until almost 10PM. John Ferrari, Chairman of the Permanent Building Committee, began the presentation by explaining that tonight’s vote was only a vote to approve the preliminary design of the library. No money is being appropriated and no town money has been expended on the project at this point.

“At this stage, it allows the process to continue,” said Ferrari.

Laura Barry, Library Trustee, followed Ferrari and presented some library history and reviewed the planning that had taken place for the proposed new library. Barry also reviewed previous Town Meeting votes in support of the project and outlined the needs analysis that had taken place. The final phase of the presentation was completed by the architects for the project, Johnson Roberts, as they presented the actual design and concluded with a virtual tour.

At the end of the presentation, lines formed at both microphones as residents came forward to speak for and against the proposed library. Beth Kelly urged residents to vote no. Scott Richardson spoke about the many advantages a new library would provide.

“I strongly urge you to vote yes,” said Richardson.

Past Planning Board member Sandy Altamura questioned the size of the proposed library and wanted to know if changes to the plan could be made at a later stage in the process.

Several abutters argued against the proposal. One argued that the proposed building was too large and did not fit the lot. He was also concerned with setbacks and his own property line.

A second abutter claimed there was a lack of communication and said he first learned of the proposed library expansion when he received a letter related to the project. He also questioned whether the town could afford a project of the proposed scope and size.

A third abutter also objected to the size of the proposed library expansion on the existing lot and said that she could not support what she considered an inappropriate design.

Peter LaGoy spoke as Chairman of the Downtown Revitalization Committee, and as a resident, in support of the library and asked residents to consider what they wanted the Hopkinton of the future to be. He referenced other towns that were more developed, all with nice libraries.

Resident Ann Mattina spoke in favor of the library and joked that if we were wanted to stop Hopkinton’s youth from smoking, we needed to have a place for them to hang out.

By 11PM, a motion to move the question was finally made, and despite the vocal opposition by the abutters, Article 53 for the Library Project Preliminary Design passed by a clear majority.

Following approval of the preliminary plan, Article 49, to Amend the Zoning Map for the Library Parcels, from Residence A to Downtown Business was voted and passed.

A motion to adjourn to the day of the Town Election, May 16, 2010, was made at approximately 11:10PM.

“I would like to thank everyone for a nice Town Meeting,” said Moderator Bruce Carlin.

See below for a detailed unofficial list of votes for Articles 34-55.

Article

Article 34: Fire Department Tender Truck - Passed
Article 35: ADA Upgrades - Passed
Article 36: Middle School Wiring Upgrade - Passed
Article 37: Middle School Auditorium Upgrade - Passed
Article 38: Community Preservation Recommendations - Passed
Article 39: Appropriation Committee Membership - Passed
Article 40: Printing of Town Report without ATM Warrant - Passed
Article 41: Tobacco Use by Minors - Passed
Article 42: Registered Sex Offender Restrictions - Passed
Article 43: Nonconforming Uses - Passed
Article 44: Special Permit for New Lots with Historic Structures - Passed
Article 45: Commercial Solar Photovoltaic Installations - Failed
Article 46: Water Resources Protection Overlay District - Passed
Article 47: Rural Business District, Setbacks and Screening - Passed
Article 48: Open Space Mixed Use District Definition - Passed
Article 49: Amend Zoning Map: Library Parcels - Passed
Article 50: Amend Zoning Map: Hayward St. & Old Town Rd.- No Action
Article 51: Accept Gift of Land: Granite St. and South Barn St. - Passed
Article 52: Disposition of Town Property on Old Town Rd.- Passed
Article 53: Library Project Preliminary Design - Passed
Article 54: Accept MGL c32B, Medicare for Retirees - No Action
Article 55: Accept MGL c32B, Join the GIC - No Action