TEWKSBURY — Tewks­bury’s Fall Special Town Meeting opened on Tues­day, Oct. 1 with 285 voters and 24 visitors registered. Keith Rauseo was nominated to serve as moderator as former Town Meet­ing Moderator Jayne Well­man was elected to the Board of Selectmen and as such had to surrender the role. The town will seek nominations for a new Town Moderator in April.

Rauseo recognized Den­nis Francis and thanked him for his 10 years of service on the School Committee, a position he resigned earlier this year. Additionally, Rauseo recognized Ron Hall, an ac­tive member of the community and former board and committee member in the town for 30 years. Hall passed away in August.

Once officials who re­side out of town were ap­proved to speak and the reading of the articles were waived, Finance Commit­tee chair Rob Kocsmiers­ky started moving quickly through the articles.

Article 1 was adopted. The article raises and ap­propriates funds to the FY20 budget in the amount of $4,825,827.36; this additional funding is from a debt exclusion voted on by the residents in the April 2019 election.

Article 2 was adopted. The article raises and ap­propriates $971.80 to pay outstanding bills.

Article 3 was adopted. The article transfers $150,000 out of the general fund to pay for future compensated absence liability for town employees, such as sick leave buyback and accrued vacation.

Article 4 was adopted. The article transfers certified free cash for specific one-time capital expenditures in the amount of $241,106. The expenditures include voting tabulators, HVAC work in town hall annex, a field sweeper, a police department radio repeater, and a culvert on Pinnacle Street.

Article 5 was adopted. The article transfers certified free cash in the amount of $300,000 for de­sign and engineering of capital improvements at the Heath Brook and Dew­ing elementary schools.

Article 6 authorizes the Town Manager to expend up to $2,200,000 for the de­sign, engineering and project management of a new DPW and school maintenance facility at the current site of the DPW facility on Whipple Road, of which the town will raise and appropriate $800,000 from revenue of the current year, as well as transfer $700,000 from free cash, $350,000 from Sewer Enter­prise Fund Retained Earn­ings, and $350,000 from Wa­ter Enterprise Fund Re­tained Earnings.

Town Manager Richard Montuori explained that the money comes from four sources: state aid, new projected growth, certified free cash (surplus), and water and sewer re­tained earnings. Montuo­ri reminded voters that the current DPW facility is not code compliant and un­safe. He also stated that the town believes it can avoid a debt exclusion.

“The sooner we act on this, the better. The cost will only grow if we wait,” he said.

Several residents raised concerns about the cost of the project to taxpayers; one resident made a mo­tion to indefinitely postpone the article. Converse­ly, many residents spoke about the rising cost to the town by putting off re­pairs.

“We have a bad habit of putting things off,” said re­sident Bruce Panilaitis.

Resident Brian Dick ask­ed Montuori to clarify that passing the article would not raise water or sewer rates. The motion to indefinitely postpone the article was defeated. The article was adopted in a 120-104 vote.

Article 7 was adopted. The article seeks to transfer $2,256,048 from the general fund to the town stabilization fund for future emergencies or one-time purchases or projects.

Article 8 would authorize the town to borrow $2,500,000 for the cost of building a new center fire station if needed. The town originally appropriated $15,896,809.85 for the project; this new debt is excluded from the property tax levy. The additional funding would cover construction costs higher than the original estimate if necessary.

If the bids for the project come in lower than expec­ted, the funds will not be used. Montuori explained that in order to have an effective bid process, the town must show prospective companies that there is sufficient funding available and that no delays would occur in securing that funding. The article was adopted.

Article 9 would appropriate $350,000 to fund installation of new lights, poles, and electrical work at Hazel Field on Livingston Street. Resident Phyllis Giblin questioned the use of CPA funds for this purpose, and asked instead that the funds be put tow­ard “needed” uses such as the stormwater compliance. There was some confusion over the point of order. There was much difficulty in hearing the moderator as the acoustics in the room were challenging. Article 9 was adopted.

Article 10 would authorize the town to create an enterprise fund to account for revenues and expenditures of stormwater management operations, ac­cep­ting the provisions of section 53F of Chapter 44 of the Massachusetts Gen­eral Laws.

Montuori noted that federal stormwater permitting requirements have in­creased in recent years. Planning Board member Eric Ryder spoke at the microphone, saying the town should look to the state for help with this unfunded mandate.

Montuori responded, “we cannot rely on the state,” listing several instances where the state pledged aide, then fell short or never followed through, leaving the town to pay the bill.

Several residents raised concerns over the cost to taxpayers of “one more fee.”

Resident Bob Rauseo sup­ported the article.

“Poor stormwater management can lead to damage to property, damage to streets…. we hear about EEE. If we don’t take care of our stormwater, we’re increasing potential for standing water all over the town,” he said.

Montuori added that by creating a fee rather than funding the issue from the tax base, the town is able to collect from exempt properties, including the state hospital. After a mo­tion to move the article passed, the article was adopted 177-52. The fee will be set by the Board of Selectmen at a future date.

Article 11 was adopted unanimously. The article authorizes the Board of Selectmen to grant an easement for National Grid to provide electric service to the new elementary school.

Similarly, Article 12 would authorize the Board of Selectmen to grant an easement for National Grid to provide electric service to the new Re­gional Emer­gen­cy Commu­ni­cations Cen­ter on Whipple Road. The article was also adopted unanimously.

Article 13 sought to ac­cept a donation from PSI Atlantic Tewksbury LLC of a drainage easement ac­ross their land at 395 Whip­ple Road. The article was adopted.

Article 14 was adopted. The article would allow for the sale of 11 parcels of land.

Article 15 would modify the existing dog bylaw to comply with new state regulations under Chap­ters 140 and 219 of the Mas­sachusetts General Laws. The changes would give the first offense a $50 fine, a second offense a $100 fine, a third offense a $300 fine, and each subsequent offense a $500 fine.

One resident raised concerns that the new fee system is too punitive; Mon­tu­ori explained that the system is designed to be in line with state standards.

Other residents spoke about their personal experience as dog owners with their dogs being attacked by loose dogs. The article passed.

Article 16 would create a general bylaw to ensure vacant buildings and land are properly maintained and do not adversely affect the residents of the town. One resident proposed an amendment to increase the per-day violation fee from $100 to $250 and make it unwaivable; the amendment was adopted. The ar­ticle was adopted as am­ended.

Article 17 would amend the town general bylaw on marijuana establishments by deleting the “sunset clause” that expires the provision to ban all marijuana cultivators, independent testing laboratories, marijuana product manufacturers, and other types of non-retailer marijuana-related businesses, on Dec. 31, 2019, making the ban permanent.

Selectwoman Jayne Well­man spoke on behalf of the selectboard to urge residents to vote down the article.

“By allowing this temporary ban... to expire, we enable opportunity in Tewksbury; opportunity to raise revenue through new growth, expand our professional community, offer new jobs, and not sit on the sidelines as other communities benefit from growth in a new industry,” she said, reminding residents that the articles do not refer to recreational marijuana. The article was defeated.

Furthermore, Article 18 would amend the town zoning bylaw on marijuana establishments by deleting the “sunset clause” that ex­pires the provision to ban all marijuana cultivators, independent testing laboratories, marijuana product manufacturers, and other types of non-retailer marijuana-related businesses, on Dec. 31, 2019, making the ban permanent.

The Planning Board recommended adoption of this article based on a non-binding ballot resolution in the town voting against these types of establishments. Planning Board Chair Steve Johnson an­nounced that the board had reversed their support for the am­endment and instead gave unanimous support to its defeat. With a two-thirds majority achieved, the article was adopted.

Article 19 sought to am­end the town zoning map to change the zoning of parcels 102-16 and 103-102 to Heavy Industrial 1. The change was approved at 2019 annual town meeting in May, but the documentation was incomplete. A resident motioned for in­definite postponement; the motion was defeated.

Assistant Town Manager Steve Sadwick explained that the change was al­ready approved by the At­torney General’s office and this was just a housekeeping measure.

The article was adopted.

Article 20 sought to al­low lawful use of a new or existing building as an assisted living facility or special care residence in the Heavy Industrial zoning district. Concern was raised about late changes to the article and Finance Committee member Don­na Higgins recommended defeat.

Two amendments were passed, allowing the use with Planning Board ap­proval only in HI and HI-1 districts. The article fail­ed in an 80-100 vote.

Article 21 sought to provide a new zoning district (R10) to allow for .25, or quarter-acre, zoning at the property at 527 Chand­ler St. owned by the Ob­late Fathers. The Oblates are seeking to sell some of the land for the construction of single family dwellings.

Article 21 was withdrawn without prejudice.

The meeting adjourned at 10:03 p.m.

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