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Town Meeting Day 2 roundup: MWRA water connection passes, Frankland Road land-taking rejected before meeting halted again

by | May 3, 2022 | Featured: News, News

At Tuesday’s continuation of Town Meeting, voters supported a plan to connect to the Massachusetts Water Resource Authority water supply, approved new turf for the Fruit Street fields and rejected a proposal to take the forest behind 71 Frankland Road by eminent domain.

For the second night in a row, Town Meeting was halted due to lack of a quorum, this time just before 10 p.m., when 119 voters were counted, nine short of the number required. It will resume Wednesday night, with eight of the 53 warrant articles remaining. The most significant is the proposed tax increment financing agreement with Lykan Bioscience.

On Monday, Town Meeting was stopped due to a quorum shortfall just as voters wrapped up their discussion of Article 22, the Massachusetts Water Resource Authority (MWRA) connection. When it resumed Tuesday, it passed easily, as did the ensuing article to allocate $600,000 for a PFAS filtration system for Well 6 off Fruit Street. When the MWRA connection is complete, all of the town’s eight wells will be shut down, according to Department of Public Works Director John Westerling, who added that the filtration system then would be auctioned off to recoup some of the expense.

Article 45 related to taking by eminent domain the forest in the rear of 71 Frankland Road, where Seaboard Solar has made plans to clear-cut a large section of the forest and install a commercial solar array.

The Select Board, Appropriation Committee and Capital Improvement Committee all recommended disapproval. Appropriation Committee Chair Mike Manning indicated the cost likely would be far higher than the $700,000 referenced in the article, which was brought forth via citizen petition from resident Ann Karnofsky.

Mary Arnaut was among those who spoke in favor of the article.

“I’d ask you to take a step back and think about how many acres we have lost in Hopkinton, mature trees that have just been cleared out,” she said, adding, “I think if we take the long-range view on the quality of life in Hopkinton, I think it’s a good investment to save this very unique property.”

Matthew Kizner, a member of the Capital Improvement Committee, said while he enjoys using the land and would be disappointed to lose it, he worried about the “chilling message” it would send to the business community for the town to take the land after permitting it to be used commercially.

“We must be mindful to what it means to honor our commitment,” he said.

In the end, 87 residents voted against the article, with 26 in support. A two-thirds majority would have been needed for it to pass.

Another article that drew some interest was the allocation of funds to replace the artificial turf at the Fruit Street athletic facility. The work is anticipated to cost $1.7 million, although $400,000 is coming from accumulated user fees.

While the article passed easily, 168-7, it also will require approval at the May 16 Annual Town Election.

The original field was built in 2012, and Parks & Recreation Commission Chair Dan Terry said it was expected to have a lifespan of 7-12 years.

“Replacing the turf really is to ensure that it’s safe, first of all, and we continue to have a high-performance field for our residents and our guests,” he said.

Terry said there are 1,200 in-town participants who use the field each year, and the facility hosts regional events (such as soccer tournaments) that are revenue-producing.

Parks & Recreation Department Director Jay Guelfi said an environmentally friendly fill — something like silica sand — will be used this time instead of the currently used crushed rubber that has raised concerns about negative environmental and health impacts.

The Community Preservation Committee’s recommendations article (32) was broken into two motions. The first motion highlights the projects the CPC agreed to support, including parking at the Town Forest, additional money for a skate park, and funding for pickleball and tennis courts (and parking) at the Fruit Street athletic facility. It passed unanimously.

The CPC’s second motion related to the potential purchase of the Conroy property between Saddle Hill Road and the Town Forest. The town has been in negotiations with the property owner, but because a purchase price has not been established, the CPC recommended no action, and the voters supported that decision.

TOWN MEETING WARRANT ARTICLES

MONDAY’S VOTES
REPORTS
Article 1, Acceptance of town reports, passed by coach vote (simple majority required)

FINANCIAL, FY 2022
Article 2, FY 2022 supplemental appropriations and transfers, passed by voice vote (simple majority required)
Article 3, Unpaid bills from prior fiscal years, passed by voice vote (four-fifths majority required)

FINANCIAL, FY 2023

Article 4, Set the salary of elected officials, passed by voice vote (simple majority required)
Article 5, FY 2023 operating budget, passed by voice vote (simple majority required)
Article 6, Establish shared housing services office revolving fund, passed by voice vote (simple majority required)
Article 7, Revolving funds spending limits, passed by voice vote (simple majority required)
Article 8, Establish access and cable related fund account, passed by voice vote (simple majority required)
Article 9, Public/education/government (PEG) access and cable related fund revolving account funding, passed by voice vote (simple majority required)
Article 10, Revoke HCAM enterprise fund, passed by voice vote (simple majority required)
Article 11, Authorized/unissued debt rescinding, passed by voice vote (simple majority required)
Article 12, Chapter 90 highway funds, passed by voice vote (simple majority required)
Article 13, Authorize petition for special legislation for limited means tested sewer and water user discounts, passed by voice vote (simple majority required)
Article 14, Transfer to other post-employment benefits liability trust fund, passed by voice vote (simple majority required)
Article 15, Transfer to the general stabilization fund, motion to take no action passed by voice vote (simple majority required)
Article 16, Transfer to the capital expense stabilization fund, motion to take no action passed by voice vote (simple majority required)
Article 17, Create school Special Education Reserve Fund, passed by voice vote (simple majority required)
Article 18, Transfer to the school Special Education Reserve Fund, passed by voice vote (simple majority required)

CAPITAL EXPENSES AND PROJECTS

Article 19, Pay-as-you-go capital expenses, passed by voice vote (simple majority required)
Article 20, Water tank cleaning, passed by voice vote (simple majority required)
Article 21, Vehicle replacement, passed by voice vote (simple majority required)

TUESDAY’S VOTES
Article 22, Massachusetts Water Resource Authority connection design work, passed by voice vote (simple majority required)
Article 23, PFAS filtration system for Well 6, passed by voice vote (simple majority required)
Article 24, Fruit Street well facility roof replacement, passed by voice vote (simple majority required)
Article 25, Fire Engine 2 replacement, passed by voice vote (two-thirds majority required)
Article 26, Woodville Fire Station repair work, passed by voice vote (two-thirds majority required)
Article 27, Air handling unit replacement, passed by voice vote (two-thirds majority required)
Article 28, Fruit Street turf field replacement, passed 168-7 by standing count vote (two-thirds majority required)
Article 29, Marathon School addition cost increase, passed unanimously by standing count vote (two-thirds majority required)
Article 30, Lake Maspenock Dam area repair work, passed by voice vote (two-thirds majority required

COMMUNITY PRESERVATION FUNDS
Article 31, Community Preservation funds, passed by voice vote (simple majority required)
Article 32, Community Preservation recommendations, Motion 1, passed by voice vote (simple majority required)
Article 32, Community Preservation recommendations, Motion 2, motion to take no action passed by voice vote (simple majority required)

ZONING BYLAW AMENDMENTS
Article 33, One single-family dwelling per lot, passed by standing count vote (two-thirds majority required)
Article 34, Maximum gross floor area, Industrial A District, passed by standing count vote (two-thirds majority required)
Article 35, Off-street parking, passed unanimously by voice vote (two-thirds majority required)
Article 36, Housekeeping/gender neutral references, passed unanimously by voice vote (two-thirds majority required)
Article 37, Housekeeping, plural uses, passed unanimously by voice vote (two-thirds majority required)
Article 38, Dimensional table, appendix, passed unanimously by voice vote (two-thirds majority required)

GENERAL BYLAW AMENDMENTS
Article 39, Housekeeping/gender neutral references, passed unanimously by voice vote (two-thirds majority required)
Article 40, Amend general bylaws Section 62-2, dog licensing, passed unanimously by voice vote (simple majority required)

LAND ACQUISITION AND DISPOSITION
Article 41, Accept easement, 2 Oakhurst Road, passed unanimously by voice vote (simple majority required)
Article 42, Accept Gift of Land, Fitch Avenue, passed unanimously by voice vote (simple majority required)
Article 43, Accept Gift of Land, Chamberlain-Whalen subdivision, passed unanimously by voice vote (simple majority required)
Article 44, Land acquisition, Conroy Property, Saddle Hill Road, motion to take no action passed unanimously by voice vote (simple majority required)
Article 45, Land acquisition, 71 Frankland Road rear, defeated 26-87 by standing count (two-thirds majority required)

YET TO BE VOTED
ADMINISTRATIVE
Article 46, Accept MGL Chapter 40U
Article 47, Accept MGL Chapter 41, 110A
Article 48, Commission on Disability
Article 49, Amend vote of Town Meeting, registrar stipend
Article 50, Prudent investment legislation
Article 51, Tax increment financing agreement with Lykan Bioscience
Article 52, PILOT agreement with Wilson Street solar farm
Article 53, Trustees of the School Fund vacancies

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