The articles for a fall Town Meeting are taking shape. Voters will be asked to make decisions on about a dozen questions mostly related to general town bylaws or our zoning regulations. The meeting is scheduled for Monday, October 16 starting at 7:00PM at the Memorial School.
There are two citizen petition articles that will be on the warrant. Each had more than the requisite 100 voter signatures to be placed on the warrant (per the Town Bylaws, petition articles for the annual town meeting require 10 voter signatures while a petition article for a special meeting requires 100 voter signatures.)
One of the petition articles seeks to remove the relatively new parking spaces along Beach Street east of Tappan Street as well as prohibiting parking on the various streets in the nearby neighborhoods (Masconomo Street, Old Neck Road, Sea Street, Eagle Head Road, Tappan Street, Proctor Street, etc.) Parking on Beach Street abutting Masconomo Park was added after the Town’s ad hoc parking committee recommended to the Selectmen that the new spaces be added. The Selectmen approved the additional parking after conducting a public hearing. Subsequent concerns about the aesthetic and safety impacts of the new parking have been discussed at a number of Selectmen meetings. The new spaces have provided relief to parking shortages for village businesses, provided additional parking for Masconomo Park events, and, of course, provided 2 hour parking for beach goers. Strong opinions both for and against the new parking spaces abound and the debate on this petition article promises to be lively.
A second petition article seeks to eliminate the option of operating a kennel with more than 4 dogs over the age of three months. Currently, any property owner can request a license for a kennel operation for an unlimited number of dogs provided they meet all health, welfare and inspection requirements. If voters approve the petition article, this would no longer be an option. Currently there are three licensed "kennels" in town, two with five dogs (household pets) and one breeder of therapy dogs that is averaging around 16 dogs. These three would have to reduce their number to 4 if voters approve the petition article. (In case you are wondering, there are nearly 950 licensed dogs in town.)
Three articles propose amendments to our zoning bylaws. One seeks to simplify the process for getting a permit to expand or alter a non-conforming building. Currently such changes must first go through a hearing process before being granted a building permit if the change increases the non-conforming nature of the building. Under the proposal, changes that do not increase non-conformity or that do not expand beyond 50% of the current size of the structure on lots that are at least 50% of the normally required size can receive a building permit without the need for obtaining a special permit from the ZBA. Both the Planning Board and the Zoning Board of Appeals support this amendment.
Another zoning related article seeks voter approval to place a temporary moratorium on allowing retail marijuana establishments. The moratorium, proposed through 2018, will allow time for the community to decide if it wants to allow such a use and if so, where in town the use should be allowed. We anticipate asking voters at the Annual Town Meeting and Annual Election if they want to prohibit retail marijuana shops.
The third zoning related article asks voters to update the zoning bylaw section regarding federally designated flood prone areas. At the Town’s request, FEMA revisited and adjusted the 100 year base flood elevations, reducing the flood plain district in a few areas of town. The two revised maps need to be referenced in our bylaw.
In the coming weeks, additional information about the Fall Town Meeting will be presented.