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Selectmen Weigh Dates For Special Town Meetings

Posted in: Front Page Stories, Sandwich News
Aug 29, 2008 - 1:57:07 PM
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SANDWICH- Selectmen have decided they will hold a Special Town Meeting before November 1.
Although the board agreed to tentatively schedule Monday, October 27, to hold this meeting, it stopped short of taking a vote on that specific date.
According to board Chairman Linell M. Grundman a Special Town Meeting must be held before November 1, so that additional Chapter 70 money from the state can be appropriated to the school department. Town Manager George H. Dunham said there are five other small items that could go on the warrant for an October Special Town Meeting and he will bring a draft of those items to the board’s next regularly scheduled business meeting on September 4. Ms. Grundman expects the board will vote on a specific date at that meeting. “I don’t see any reason why we can’t finalize a date at that meeting,” she said.
The board was hoping that the Local Comprehensive Plan, a kind of master plan for the town’s commercial and residential zoning, would be completed so that it, too, could be placed on the warrant for this Special Town Meeting, but it does not appear that will happen.
Selectman John G. Kennan Jr. said he does not expect that the plan will be completed until after November 1. Ms. Grundman offered up the possibility of holding a second Special Town Meeting in the winter, perhaps in January, so that the plan could be approved by voters at that time.
Mr. Kennan was concerned about a January date for a Special Town Meeting to vote on the LCP.  “I’m concerned not enough members of the public would be at the meeting to weigh in on the issue,” he said. He added that Stantec Engineering, the company hired to develop this plan for the town, has placed a great deal of emphasis on public outreach.  He expressed concern about holding a Special Town Meeting in January, when many residents are away for the winter.
Ms. Grundman pointed out, however, that if the LCP plan is approved by voters in January, then any zoning changes that need to be made as a result of the newly approved plan could go on the warrant for the Annual Town Meeting in May.
The board also discussed its first open forum meeting, which is scheduled for Thursday, September 11. Two weeks ago, the board of selectmen voted to reduce its meeting schedule to every other week, rather than every week. For one of the weeks that the board does not have a business meeting scheduled, it will hold a public forum on a specific issue.
The topic of discussion for this first public forum will focus on re-opening Fire Station 2 in East Sandwich.
Ms. Grundman said Fire Chief George P. Russell Jr. and Deputy Fire Chief Thomas A. Corriveau will attend the forum to give an overview of this project, discuss funding options, and answer any questions that the public may have. “I hope members of the public will attend and let us know what they want,” Ms. Grundman said.
Ms. Grundman explained that these public forum meetings are a bit different from the public forum portion of the regularly scheduled selectmen meetings, in that selectmen and other department heads will be on hand to provide feedback and answers to the public’s questions as they come up.