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Town Meeting Day 3: Voters narrowly reject MBTA Communities Act

by | May 8, 2024 | Featured: News, News

Hopkinton Town Meeting on Wednesday narrowly rejected adoption of the MBTA Communities Act zoning bylaw, joining several communities that have defied the state.

Following about 40 minutes of debate during the third and final day of Town Meeting at the Hopkinton Middle School auditorium, Article 39 failed by eight votes, with 118 in favor and 126 opposed.

Principal Planner John Gelcich noted that this is a zoning law, requiring the town — which is considered an “adjacent community,” because the MBTA is next door in Southborough — to establish a district of reasonable size (at least 50 acres) and allow for at least 750 units in Hopkinton — although the units do not need to be developed in order to comply with the law.

Municipalities that do not comply risk losing funding from the state and opens up the community to fair housing lawsuits. Hopkinton has until the end of the year to present its plan.

Some residents who live at or near The Preserve condominiums, which is located across from Hopkinton State Park, strongly objected to having their property included in the rezoned area, stating that their property rights are being altered if not taken away.

Planning Board vice chair Rob Benson said it’s unlikely a developer would buy all the properties there and redevelop it with denser housing.

Added Zoning Advisory Committee chair Ted Barker-Hook, “Nobody is losing any rights with this zoning. In fact, you gain rights to have more people to sell to. If you choose to not sell your property, it’s yours. If you choose to sell it, it’s yours, just like every zoning district in every part of our town. Nobody’s rights are being taken away in any way of any kind.”

Barker-Hook added that the committee selected “properties that are entirely unlikely to developed in the near future,” which he later clarified to be 5-15 years.

Ken Weismantel disagreed, saying it would not be that difficult to install the needed infrastructure. “If you take the Carbone [restaurant] property, you will see 300-plus more kids in five years,” Weismantel said, pushing for a different parcel to be selected.

Planning Board member Parker Happ said the town can’t afford to wait on this.

“We stand to lose a lot more if we don’t pass this today than if we kick the can down the road or think that we can skirt it,” he said.

Resident Barbara Burnham said she did not like the “scare tactics” from the state and encouraged Hopkinton to join a number of other communities that have rejected the plan.

Hopkinton has until the end of the year to approve the bylaw or face legal repercussions. It appears likely that it will return at a Special Town Meeting in the fall, perhaps with some modifications.

Specialized energy code gets support

The Sustainable Green Committee sponsored the specialized energy code, which, among other things, would require builders of new homes to pre-wire for future electric appliances even if using fossil fuels, and install some solar panels on-site. Article 36 was approved by a count of 170-94.

Article 35 proposed providing relief for seniors in need, allowing them to be exempt from the school construction portion of the tax bill. Residents supported the article, although that only means it will get sent to the state, which must agree to make it law.

Article 40, a request to change three properties behind J.C. Parmenter, a septic services company on Hayden Rowe Street, from residential to business zoning passed 144-63 (two-thirds majority needed).

Following are results from all articles at Annual Town Meeting and Special Town Meeting.

ANNUAL TOWN MEETING ARTICLES/RESULTS

Article 1: Acceptance of town reports
Approved, 304-23

Article 2: Supplemental appropriations and transfers
Approved via consent agenda, 292-39 (simple majority required)

Article 3: Unpaid bills from prior fiscal years
Approved via voice vote (four-fifths majority required)

Article 4: Rescind authorized but unissued debt
Vote to take no action approved via consent agenda, 292-39 (simple majority required)

Article 5: Excess bond premium
Vote to take no action approved via consent agenda, 292-39 (simple majority required)

Article 6: Set the salary of elected officials
Approved via voice vote (simple majority required)

Article 7: Fiscal year 2025 operating budget
Approved, 280-70 (simple majority required)

Article 8: FY 2025 revolving funds spending limits
Approved by voice vote, (simple majority required)

Article 9: PEG access and cable-related funding
Amendment to increase HCAM funding with additional $50,000 from the town’s free cash approved, 233-102 (simple majority required)
Main motion approved, 236-70 (simple majority required)

Article 10: Chapter 90 highway funds
Approved via consent agenda, 292-39 (simple majority required)

Article 11: Transfer to Other Post-Employment Benefits Liability Trust Fund
Approved via consent agenda, 292-39 (simple majority required)

Article 12: Transfer to the general stabilization fund
Approved via consent agenda, 292-39 (simple majority required)

Article 13: Transfer to the Capital Expense Stabilization Fund
Vote to take no action approved via consent agenda, 292-39 (simple majority required)

Article 14: Transfer to the School Special Education Reserve Fund
Approved via consent agenda, 292-39 (simple majority required)

Article 15: Opioids funds appropriation
Approved via voice vote (simple majority required)

Article 16: Pay-as-you-go capital expenses
Approved via voice vote (simple majority required)

Article 17: Digitization of all town records
Approved, 297-46 (two-thirds majority required)

Article 18: District-wide HVAC replacement
Vote to take no action approved via voice vote (simple majority required)

Article 19: Hopkins Elementary School addition and renovation
Approved, 242-102 (two-thirds majority required)

Article 20: Ash Street and Fenton Street drainage improvement
Approved, 209-46 (two-thirds majority required)

Article 21: Roadway and sidewalk improvements, DiCarlo Road, Peppercorn Road, Barbara Road
Failed, 151-82 (two-thirds majority required)

Article 22: Granite Street culvert replacement
Approved, 183-42 (two-thirds majority required)

Article 23: Town-wide water main flushing program
Approved via voice vote (simple majority required)

Article 24: Howe Street water treatment plant-ozone treatment
Approved, 239-42 (two-thirds majority required)

Article 25: Grove Street water tank design
Approved via voice vote (simple majority required)

Article 26: East Main Street water main replacement
Approved, 235-34 (two-thirds majority required)

Article 27: Water Department vehicle replacement
Approved via voice vote (simple majority required)

Article 28: Water Department vehicle replacement
Vote to take no action approved via consent agenda, 292-39 (simple majority required)

Article 29: Water Department vehicle replacement
Approved via voice vote (simple majority required)

Article 30: Sewer Department vehicle replacement
Approved via voice vote (simple majority required)

Article 31: Wastewater treatment plant membrane
Approved via voice vote (simple majority required)

Article 32: Sewer system evaluation, Hayden Rowe pump station
Approved via voice vote (simple majority required)

Article 33: Municipal parking
Motions 1-2, failed 89-181 (two-thirds majority required)
Motion 3, failed via voice vote (two-thirds majority required)

Article 34: Toxic chemicals testing
Amendment to increase spending from $10,000 to $50,000 from free cash approved, 108-93 (simple majority required)
Main motion failed, 54-107 (simple majority required)

Article 35: Home rule petition-senior tax exemptions, school building projects
Amendment to not include seniors who have school-age children in home failed by voice vote (simple majority required)
Main motion approved by voice vote (simple majority required)

Article 36: Adopt the specialized energy code
Approved, 170-94 (simple majority required)

Article 37: Community preservation funds
Approved by voice vote (simple majority required)

Article 38: Community preservation recommendations
Motion 1 approved by voice vote (simple majority required)
Motion 2 approved, 226-7 (two-thirds majority required)

Article 39: MBTA Communities zoning bylaw
Failed, 118-126 (simple majority required)

Article 40: Zoning map change, 1 Colonial Avenue, 81 Hayden Rowe, 83 Hayden Rowe
Approved, 144-63 (two-thirds majority required)

Article 41: Amend noncriminal disposition bylaw
Approved via voice vote (simple majority required)

Article 42: General bylaw amendment-membership requirements for certain committees
Approved, 92-78 (simple majority required)

Article 43: General bylaw amendment-admission to Town Meeting hall
Failed via voice vote (simple majority required)

Article 44: General bylaw amendment-leash law
Items A and B approved via voice vote (simple majority required)
Item C failed, 53-100 (simple majority required)

Article 45: Accept gift of land, Whisper Ridge subdivision
Approved via consent agenda, 292-39 (simple majority required)

Article 46: Accept gift of land, Connelly Farm subdivision
Approved via consent agenda, 292-39 (simple majority required)

Article 47: Accept gift of land, Elmwood III subdivision
Approved via voice vote (simple majority required)

Article 48: Easement, Lake Maspenock dam operations and maintenance
Approved via voice vote (simple majority required)

Article 49: Property disposition, 0 Duffield Road and 0 Beach Street
Failed, 92-52 (two-thirds majority required)

Article 50: Transfer care, custody and control of Echo Trail parcels
Vote to take no action approved via consent agenda, 292-39 (two-thirds majority required)

Article 51: Amend town charter-housekeeping
Approved, 106-41 (simple majority required)

Article 52: Establish Government Study Committee
Failed, 62-82 (simple majority required)

SPECIAL TOWN MEETING ARTICLES/RESULTS

Article 1: Public works vehicle replacement
Approved via voice vote (simple majority required)

Article 2: Main Street Fire Station HVAC upgrade
Approved via voice vote (simple majority required)

Article 3: Woodville Fire Station repairs
Approved via voice vote (simple majority required)

Article 4: Land disposition-0 Hayward Street
Approved, 282-11 (two-thirds majority required)

Article 5: Appoint Sgt. Timothy Brennan
Approved, 220-99 (simple majority required)

END

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