Town Meeting Warrant Is Open Until Feb. 23

Photo: The Town Meeting warrant is open for business

The chance to have your say before this year’s Town Meeting is underway as the Select Board voted Monday, Feb. 8, to open the meeting’s Warrant for the next two weeks.

“We’re doing is allowing resident to … submit warrant articles through citizens’ petitions or soliciting the Select Board to act,” said Roy Epstein, the Board’s chair.

The warrant was opened at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 9 and will close on Tuesday, Feb. 23 at 3 p.m.

There is already a long list of articles that have been submitted by the town and its departments, 23 in total as of Monday. The articles will be debated and voted during the first session of Town Meeting which will convene in late April or early May.

Just a few of the non-standing articles include:

  • Establishing Indigenous Peoples’ Day
  • The acceptance of Oakmont Lane as a public way
  • A resolution to the legislature to revise the state’s gas law to allow communities to approve fossil fuel free new residential construction
  • A sanitary sewage easement for 100 Common St.
  • Disposition of property at 92 Trapelo Rd.
  • Lease of a cell tower at 780 Concord Ave.
  • A bylaw to limit/restrict leaf blower use
  • Changes to the Belmont Light Board governance

Patrice Garvin, Belmont’s town administrator, said it’s likely that more articles will be forwarded from elected and standing committees and boards seeking the Select Board’s help in placing articles in the warrant.

“It’s not just time for citizens’ petitions,” said Garvin.

Special Town Meeting Warrant Opens Tuesday, Closes Wednesday

Photo: A Brookline town meeting warrant from the time of Belmont incorporation in the late 1850s.

The Belmont Board of Selectmen voted at their Monday, Oct. 15 meeting on the dates in which the warrant for the Special Town Meeting beginning Nov. 13 will be open and closed.

The Special warrant will open at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 16 and close a day later on Wednesday, Oct. 17 at 4 p.m.

The most prominent of the eight article coming before “the special” is the authorization to borrow $213 million to construct a new 7-12 High School. The overlay district maps for adult retail marijuana sales and South Pleasant Street will be on the warrant along with changing the tax deferral for seniors from 8 to 4.5 percent, a Community Preservation Act off-cycle request for $400,000 for design work on the Alexander Avenue underpass, an extension of the DPW/Belmont Police Committee and a pair of financial issues.

The warrant is a document issued by the Board of Selectmen to call a town meeting. Warrants are essentially a list of items to be voted on by the approximately 300 Town Meeting Members which represents the residents in Belmont’s eight precincts.

The selectmen and town committees, boards and staff can place an article in the warrant. Residents can also insert an article on the warrant through the citizen’s petitions process. In a special town meeting, the citizen petitioner must gather 200 signatures to be accepted. Once received by the town clerk, the selectmen have 45 days to call a special town meeting or place it in the warrant of an existing town meeting. 

After the warrant is closed on Wednesday, the selectmen will meet with Town Moderator Micheal Widmer this coming Monday to determine the order the articles will be taken up and if there are any issues pertaining to conflicts with any of the articles. 

Town Meeting Warrant Opening For a Month for Citizen’s Petitions

Always wanted to change Belmont? How about requiring new homes to be painted one of only eight colors (an actual petition in another state), force model aircraft operators to be licensed pilots (another one) and make dogs wear pants (that hasn’t been petitioned … yet).

Your chance is coming next week when the town warrant – the document which Board of Selectmen approved to call a Town Meeting – will be open for residents who wish to add their own article to be heard and voted by the 290-member Town Meeting which will begin this year on Monday, May 4.

“Citizens are welcomed to submit petitions,” said Belmont Town Clerk Ellen Cushman, who said the warrant will be open on Monday, Feb. 2 at 9 a.m. and will remain so until Monday, March 2, no later than 3 p.m.

Under Massachusetts law, residents may place articles on an Annual Town Meeting warrant without approval by the Selectmen by petitioning the Town Clerk to insert the article. Officially, it only requires 10 signatures on the petition from residents to secure a place on the warrant (although Cushman suggests getting 15 to be on the safe side.)

While not all petitions are successful, a good portion have succeeded before the Belmont Town Meeting. In the past few years, citizen’s petitions on banning smoking in town playgrounds, combining school and town building supervision, restricting yard sales and requiring residents to shovel snow from sidewalks have passed Town Meeting muster and included into the bylaws.

In fact, a citizen’s petition before this spring’s annual Town Meeting restricting the height of residential homes near Grove Street Playground was inspired by the successful passage of a citizen’s petition in 2013 halting for a year the tear down of single-family homes to build two-families structures in the Waverley Square neighborhood.

For those residents thinking about putting their stamp on the town’s bylaws, Cushman advise petitioners to do their homework and be prepared to work with town officials and government groups to construct their appeal to have the chance of a favorable vote before Town Meeting.

For those seeking changes to the town’s zoning bylaws should meet with the Planning Board and the town’s Office of Community Development while those looking to alter the town’s budget priorities need to get in touch with the Warrant and Capital Budget committees and the town’s financial departments, said Cushman.

With all petitions, the town counsel, George Hall, is required to review them, so they do not violate the state or US constitutions.

“So it’s important that citizens start the process earlier than later to receive advice in drafting their petitions and getting the support they need to give themselves a good chance before Town Meeting,” said Cushman.