- 216th Annual Arlington Town Meeting (May 3rd, 2023)
The meeting began with a special town meeting, followed by a return to article nine, which had been previously postponed. The meeting emphasized the 48-hour rule, requiring amendments and substitute motions to be submitted two business days in advance. The meeting also addressed voting procedures, with a reminder that votes could be changed until voting was closed. The meeting then adjourned the annual town meeting and opened the special town meeting. The meeting concluded with various announcements and resolutions, including a fundraising walk for affordable housing, a benefit for metastatic breast cancer patients, and the decision not to purchase BOLO restraints for the police department.
- Hybrid Town Meeting Proposal
The Select Board unanimously recommended positive action on the creation of a committee proposed by the Town Meeting Procedures Committee. The proposed committee would study the feasibility of conducting future town meetings in a hybrid format, supporting both in-person and virtual participation. After the discussion, a motion was made to terminate the debate, which was passed. The main motion to establish a hybrid town meeting study committee was then put to a vote. The motion passed with 183 votes in favor, 33 votes against, and one abstention.
- Change in Police Hiring Process
The article proposed a change in the hiring process for police officers in the town. The proposed change would allow the town to file a home rule petition with the Massachusetts legislature to hire police officers outside of the civil service system. Once hired, these officers would still have full civil service protections. The proposal was met with some questions and concerns from committee members. Despite these concerns, the proposal was ultimately passed.
- Removal of Stenographer Requirement
The committee debated the pros and cons of this proposal. The committee also discussed the cost of maintaining a stenographer, with one member arguing that the cost was negligible compared to the town’s projected deficit. The committee voted in favor of these amendments.
- Removal of Unenforceable Provision from Zoning By-law
The committee proposed to remove the unenforceable provision from the Zoning By-law. The motion to remove the unenforceable provision was carried with a significant majority, with 203 votes in the affirmative, 1 in the negative, and 5 abstentions.
- Downtown Business Parking Minimums
The amendment was proposed by an Arlington resident from Precinct 3. The Board expressed support for the article, stating that it simplifies the Zoning By-law regarding non-residential parking requirements in the B-5 Zoning District and aligns with the master plan and Connect Arlington, the Sustainable Transportation Plan. Despite some concerns, the motion to terminate debate passed, and the amendment was approved with 177 votes in favor, 29 against, and 2 abstentions.
- Usable Open Space Requirements for Homes
The ARB supports the article as it simplifies the zoning by-law by eliminating overlapping dimensional requirements, which aligns with the recommendations of the master plan. Several residents voiced their opinions on the proposed changes. The meeting concluded without a final decision on Article 30. The discussion will continue at a future meeting.
- Potential Change to Zoning Laws
The meeting, consisting of 250 members, was aware of the gravity of their decision, which would affect the town’s 40,000 residents. The meeting concluded with no clear decision on the proposed change. Members were reminded of the importance of considering the town’s master plan and the potential impact of their decisions on the town’s future. The next meeting was scheduled to discuss the Minuteman Budget and an article on artificial turf.