Annual Town Meeting is Tuesday, May 7 at 7pm at Auburn High School, and Town Meeting Members will be asked to consider 34 warrant articles.
A number of the articles are procedural formalities, such as authorizing Selectmen to secure grants, authorizing banking agreements, renewing revolving accounts, or moving previously authorized spending to different line items, for example.
One of the first orders of business of significance is article 3 which sets the fiscal year 2020 budget. The fiscal year begins on July 1 and runs through June 30, 2020. The proposed FY 2020 budget is for $69,725,300, representing a 2.35% increase over FY 2019. The majority of the increase from FY 2019 is in the school and employee benefits line items, largely reflecting increased costs of health care benefits.
Article 21 seeks a $200,000 appropriation to renovate Camp Gleason, which would again be used as recreation and government meeting space.
Article 26 seeks $1.2 million for roadway improvements beyond that being covered by MassDOT.
Article 27 seeks $2.2 million to install a water main bypass under Rt. 20 from the Pinrock Pumping Station to the Upper Blackstone treatment plant. This would serve as an emergency means of pumping wastewater.
Another significant warrant article is 32 which would amend the Auburn Zoning Bylaws to establish a Drury Square Village District. This would create an overlay district that would apply requirements to new construction and major renovations within the district, as well as limit the types of businesses that could be established within the District. Existing businesses and uses are ‘grandfathered’, and exempt from the new zoning requirements as long as the current use does not change.
The Drury Square Village District would cover the area roughly from Auburn Fire Rescue Headquarters on Auburn Street to south, to the I-290 overpass at Auburn St. to the north; Swanson Rd. from Southbridge St. to Vine St. to the west; and the east side of Auburn St. (Yong Shing, McDonald’s, etc.) to the intersection of Auburn St. and Southbridge St.
The long-term plan for the District is to create a true, walkable and attractive town center area with commercial, retail, civic and residential uses. In the near-term, plans are underway for road and traffic improvements in the area.
The Drury Square revitalization has been in the planning stages for years. The Town began holding workshops and information sessions to share information and gather feedback from residents and businesses in February of 2015.
Articles 33 and 34 pertain to zoning bylaw changes to allow for “tiny homes”, a relatively recent trend intended to combat housing shortage and affordability issues. Article 33 creates a zoning bylaw change to allow for the use of mobile tiny homes (chassis-mounted) on existing single unit dwelling properties. The bylaw limits tiny homes to one per property, limited to the side or rear yard, must be occupied by an immediately family members, and cannot be used as a rental unit.
Article 34 is by citizen petition and seeks to allow a mobile tiny home to be affixed to a concrete foundation, as opposed to requiring it to remain “mobile”.
Town Meeting is comprised of 120 elected residents – 24 from each of the five precincts – elected eight per year for three year terms. Town Meeting is responsible for appropriating the annual budget, amending bylaws, approving charter updates and authorizing town government to carry out various duties on behalf of the town. Town Meeting is open to the public, though only the elected Town Meeting members have voting privileges.