Town meeting to continue on Tuesday night

Apr 23, 2019

Town meeting will stretch to a second night after a relatively smooth evening, during which voters made decisions on all but seven articles.

On Monday night, the entirety of the special town meeting was covered, as was most of the annual town meeting. Because the town covers articles from within each warrant at random, the remaining articles are scattered throughout the annual meeting’s warrant.

All of the routine funding bills were passed without controversy, including the spring capital plan and transfers of free cash. The town’s budget has not yet been voted on.

So far, the only warrant article to be voted down outright was article 22 of the annual town meeting, which is a citizen’s petition which would have mandated that those applying for aquaculture grants would have had to notify all abutters within 1,000 feet of the proposed farm.

Following discussions about the cost and practicality of the article — a different version of which was voted down at a prior town meeting — voters heard from Jacqui Nichols, the director of assessment, about what the article would cost the town.

Although the applicant would pay the printing and shipping costs for notifying neighbors, the assessor’s office would be responsible for drawing up the list of abutters. According to Nichols, developing the list required by the article is beyond the capabilities of the department’s computer system and would have to be done by hand.

Harbormaster Garry Buckminster said that he has been developing an in-depth set of guidelines that would regulate aquaculture businesses in Wareham that only need to be approved by the Board of Selectmen, and that the concerns brought up by residents will be addressed in those guidelines.

Furthermore, whether the town voted to approve the article or not, officials said that it would mainly be considered as an advisement of the votes’ wishes as the Board of Selectmen decides whether or not to approve Buckminster’s regulations.

Another article that caused some controversy was article 9 of the special town meeting. That article would transfer three parcels of town-owned land, all located near Rte. 25 off Glen Charlie Road, to the Wareham Redevelopment Authority. One of the parcels abuts an aquifer which is a source of water for the Onset water district.

Lisa Morales moved for further study on the article, saying that she felt the rate-payers in Onset should have more information about the possible effects of development on the water supply. Officials said that any activity on the property would be tightly restricted by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, and action on the property would bring money into the town. The amended measure, which sends the article to further study, was approved.

All other articles that have been voted on so far have passed, including the transfer of lands on Littleton Road with the aim of building affordable senior housing, an easement across town land to grant Mill Pond Diner access to the town sewer, new regulations about front yard storage and temporary signage, money to resurface the track at the high school, and four additional senior housing units near Agawam Village.

The meeting will continue at 7 p.m. on Tuesday in the high school auditorium on Viking Drive.