Annual Town Meeting Gets Underway Monday, April 29

Photo: Town Meeting in action.

While there doesn’t appear to be any “blockbuster” articles before them, the Belmont annual Town Meeting which convenes at 7 p.m., on Monday, April 29 at Belmont High School, there will be a few items that will spark interest of the 290 member body.

One of those items is likely to be Article 1 of the Special Town Meeting on May 1 when the building committee for the renovation of the Police Headquarters and the DPW returns to request up to $3.5 million over the $7.4 million last year’s meeting approved to do the job. The extra money is needed to relocate the police personnel offsite, for more extensive renovations and the higher cost of construction. It’s not unusual for Town Meeting to scrutinize any second go-around for funds after approving a project the year before they assumed was complete.

Another is the proposed change to the inclusionary housing zoning bylaw – which sets the number of affordable units in residential housing projects – bringing Belmont’s By-Law into alignment with peer communities and clarifies and simplify subsections of the By-Law by reducing the threshold for when affordable housing is required, from 40 dwelling units to 20 (in which 12 percent of the development will be affordable); deleting a provision that regulates mixed-use developments differently and simplifying the cash option to building affordable units. These measures could come under fire as dampening future large residential development in Belmont.

The Town Meeting will hearing the motions in the following order: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 8, 9 and 11.

  • The first two articles are housekeeping items.
  • Article 3: Amending the “Inclusionary Housing” Zoning By-Law (needs a two-thirds vote)
  • Article 4: Another Zoning By-Law change which involves a small section of Pleasant Street within two blocks of the Route 2 off ramp that will “ensure that tear down/rebuilds and additions reflect the current character of the neighborhood in terms of density, mass, bulk, height, etc.”
  • Article 5: Article on kennels and dogs.
  • Article 6: The one which will do away with 160 years of tradition by making gender neutral the name of the Board of Selectmen to the “Select Board.”
  • Article 7 will be withdrawn as it was a citizen’s petition that is now taken up by Article 6.
  • Article 10 is to support a home rule amendment to change the term of the Town Moderator from 1 to 3 years.
  • Article 8 and 9 are non-binding articles; 8 is the Belmont Climate Action Resolution while 9 is to support efforts on the state level to allow the right to repair on electronic equipment.
  • Article 11 is to approve projects to be funded by the Community Preservation Committee.

If the meeting does not conclude the Segment A warrant articles on Monday, April 29, it will continue th meeting to Wednesday, May 1 at 7 p.m.   

On Wednesday, May 1 at 7 p.m., the meeting will reconvene starting with a report by Anne Marie Mahoney, chair of the DPW/Police Project Building Committee. At 7: 30 p.m. the meeting will recess from the Annual Town Meeting warrant and take up the articles in the Special Town Meeting, in the order: 2, 3, 4 and 1. 

  • Article 2 of “The Special” will approve transferring $3,663 excess premiums from the sale of general obligation bonds to the Kendall Fund.
  • Article 3 will approve the spending of a State Transportation Infrastructure Fund which will go to the improvement of the intersection of Lexington and Sycamore.
  • Article 4 is the paying of old bills.

It’s anticipated Article 1 of the Special will be taken up on Monday, May 6.

If all of the business of Segment A of the Annual Town Meeting and the Special Town Meeting does not conclude on May 6, the Meeting will resume on May 8.

Segment B Articles – all budget-related items – of the Annual Town Meeting will be taken up beginning Wednesday, May 29.  

Correction: In an earlier version of the article, there was a reference to an amendment to the planning board’s change to the “inclusionary housing zoning bylaw” as watering down the number of affordable units. That was an incorrect reading of the amendment and has been corrected.

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