By John Anderson
All six articles on the warrant for Tuesday’s Special Town Meeting were passed with little resistance. Article 1, which doesn’t require a vote, was to hear the reports of the Finance Committee, Selectmen, and School Superintendent.
Article 2 transferred $144,519.81 back to the school department for special education expenses from FY2014 while Articles 3 and 4 re-purposed CIP funds from previous years to the accelerated repairs at 10 Swanson Rd. and Bryn Mawr schools.
Due to a printing error on the warrant mailed to town meeting members, Articles 5,6,7 and 8 will be taken up at a continued meeting next Wednesday. Approval of the first three will assure Auburn’s participation in the Massachusetts School Building Authority’s Accelerated Repair Program which will contribute $1.5-1.7 million to a boiler replacement at 10 Swanson Rd. and roof replacements at Bryn Mawr and 10 Swanson Rd.
Following the Special Town Meeting on April 1st, the Auburn Public Schools will hold a public hearing for their proposed budget for FY2016.
The hearing is expected to begin at 7:45pm.
Article 9, as many expected, drew the most comments and delays. The total reorganization and expansion of the town’s general by-laws has taken over three years of work by the By-Law Review Committee.
Chairman Mark Maass opened his presentation with a moment of silence for committee and town meeting member Joe Hamel who passed away the previous day. The lack of Joe’s presence seemed to be felt by all who knew him.
Town Meeting Member (TMM) Brent Anderson asked that Article 9 be postponed indefinitely with the hope it could be resubmitted for the Annual Town Meeting in May. Anderson said there hadn’t been enough time to review the document and he wanted a side-by-side comparison between the old and new versions.
Town Manager Julie Jacobson quickly recapped the committee meetings, public hearings, and even Code Red messages about the by-law changes. She also stressed that the reorganization of the by-laws into related sections did not allow for a direct link between the original and changed versions.
Anderson got little TTM support, and his motion was quickly voted down.
TTM and Planning Board Chairman Paul Koski brought up the new by-law requiring water cisterns or dry hydrants in new developments not served by an adequate public or private water supply. Fire Chief Stephen Coleman eloquently defended the by-law, and Koski’s objections were overruled.
Article 10 put in motion the repeal of the existing by-laws once the Attorney General approved the new ones while Article 11 amended the Zoning By-law by adding a provision for two associate members. Although associate members had been appointed in the past, this was not a legal move according to Massachusetts General Laws. Now it is.