Special Town Meeting: The Results
Special Town Meeting saw low voter turnout but big results.
The voters have spoken.
Wednesday's Special Town Meeting brought more than 200 people -- considerably lower turnout than the average Town Meeting -- to North Andover High School to cast their votes on several proposals that would impact their lives and their town's budget.
In addition to the Fire Department proposal for new fire trucks being approved, every other measure passed with little-to-no opposition. The meeting only lasted a little more than an hour.
Cool News for the Library
The Stevens Memorial Library will get its new HVAC system. Last spring, the HVAC system broke and the library had to get individual air conditioning units and prop them up in the windows with chairs. Throughout the summer, electricity costs soared and most of the library was still sweltering.
"In addition to being ugly and clunky, the rigged equipment was extremely expensive to operate," Library Director Mary Rose Quinn told the crowd before the vote. "The community reading room remained mostly uninhabitable due to heat. The library was not a haven last summer in the community."
Article 2 called for spending up to $460,000 to purchase a new HVAC system and enlist engineering services to make sure the project is done the best way possible. Voters approved the article, with only two people in the crowd voting against it.
Oddly, the article that saw the most controversy was Article 9, a simple measure to amend the text of the town bylaws regarding public meetings to comply with state law.
What was expected to be a quick and easy vote was complicated when Steve Tryder of Chestnut Street took to the microphone to request an amendment that the words "48 hours" be added to the text to clarify that an announcement of an open meeting must be posted at least 48 hours prior to a meeting. But state law already mandates that, so by wording the new text to include compliance with state law -- which the original amendment did -- the nex text would mandate that by default.
After some fumbling with figuring out where in the sentence he wanted "48 hours," one man stood up and offered a suggestion of putting it in its own sentence, with some sarcasm.
"It's unnecessary, it's redundant, it's irrelevant, but if Mr. Tryder wants it in there, then let's do it in a way so it's not in the wrong place," the man said with laughter from the crowd.
Eventually, someone else stood up and reminded the crowd that changing the wording would mean it would have to be changed whenever the state law was changed, and the voters scrapped Tryder's amendment altogether. The original article passed, though.
Drive On Through
Another contentious article was the final one, a request to allow a drive-through at a bank property being proposed for the Corridor Development District on Route 114.
John Smolak, lawyer for MacGregor Properties -- which owns the land in question and is planning to sell it to a bank -- said that a drive-through allowance would make the property more appealing to banks.
But Tryder returned to the microphone to object.
"My concern is about the traffic," Tryder said. "It is impossible to take a left turn from Hillside onto 114."
But the article was not about whether to allow a bank to go there. It was whether to allow the bank to have a drive-through, since the bank was on five acres of land and would be buffered from nearby neighborhoods.
The voters approved the drive-through in the closest vote of the evening: 210 to 9.
The Vote Breakdown
|Article 1: Fire Truck Purchases||219
|Article 2: Library HVAC||217
|Article 3: Spending Cuts||219
|Article 4: Money Transfer to Stabilization Fund||217
|Article 5: Community Preservation Fund Money||219
|Article 6: Paying Unpaid Bills||219
|Article 7: Tax Amnesty Program||213
|Article 8: Land Purchase for Drinking Water||219
|Article 9: Open Meeting Law Compliance||218
|Adding Special Permits Provision to Corridor Development District||210