Selectboard logo, May 20, 2019
"You don’t want to look like you’re on the wrong side of history.”
-- Carl Wagner

UPDATED, March 28: A whopping 91 warrant articles will be discussed and voted on at this year’s annual Town Meeting, which starts April 26, and the Select Board is busy reviewing them. 

At its March 22 meeting, the board discussed 14 of these articles, in two categories: those ready for final vote/approval and those being drafted in preparation for final vote/approval at future board meetings. 

Warrant articles — final votes

The Select Board approved five articles, and voted/recommended no action on three.

  • Article 8, Bylaw Amendment/Canine Control Fees and Fines

Dog licenses will be issued each year and must be renewed annually by Jan. 31, with a 45 business-day grace period before any fines are assessed.

  • Article 9, Bylaw Amendment/Display of Notice Fines

Fines for violations greater than 20 days will be reduced from $500 to $300.

  • Article 17, Vote/Establishment of Youth and Young Adult Advisory Board, Commission, or Committee Study Committee

Town Meeting will establish a Youth and Young Adult Advisory Board Study Committee.

Members will include four Arlington students; the town’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion director or a Health and Human Services Department designee; and one member from each of the following committees: Select Board, School Committee, Library Board of Trustees, Board of Youth Services, Parks and Recreation Committee and Envision Arlington Standing Committee. 

  • Article 24, Vote/Town Clerk Study

The Finance Committee will appropriate up to $10,000 to conduct a study about converting the town clerk’s office from elected to appointed.

  • Article 91 Declaration of Climate Emergency

Town Meeting will adopt a resolution to convey the urgency of the threat of climate change. To see the resolution, click here and scroll to the end >> 

Articles voted/recommended no action:

  • Article 10, Bylaw Amendment/Street Performance Definitions

The bylaw’s issues need to be further examined before any updates and/or revisions can be developed. 

  • Article 19, Vote/Establishment of Town Committee on Residential Development

The Redevelopment Board handles this role.

  • Article 22, Vote/Provision of Town Email Addresses for Town Meeting Members

This article poses significant challenges that Town Meeting members can address themselves. Heim's memo on this article says that some members prefer not to be accessible via email, though most establish a Town Meeting email address separate from their personal or work emails.

Warrant articles — hearings

The Select Board addressed the following six proposals, inclulding one about public participation, which grew contentious: 

  • Article 11 Bylaw Amendment/Stormwater Management

The board voted to clarify the storm-water mitigation project’s procedures and applicability. Arlington’s town engineer and environmental planner seek to update the article’s purpose and goals, and improve coordination between their departments.

This bylaw requires five core changes: (a) provide clear goals that cite statutory bases to engage in storm-water management, (b) update the definitions, (c) clarify the different projects, (d) promulgate more detailed rules and regulations, and (e) ensure compatibility with EPA permitting, explained Town Counsel Doug Heim. 

“This bylaw is crafted in such a way that it can handle changes that may arise through other legislation,” said board member Len Diggins.

  • Article 14 Bylaw Amendment/Gutters in Historic Districts 

The board agreed to replace existing wooden gutters with fiberglass gutters.

Stephen Makowka, Historic Districts Commission chair, said that when replacing historic features, the commission prefers to keep the same appearance. 

“Fiberglass gutters have the same texture and dimensions as the historic gutters. Indistinguishable from wooden gutters, they have more capacity and longevity, and do not require repairs,” said Makowka.

  • Article 19 Vote/Establishment of Town Committee on Auto and Property Insurance Claims and Losses

The board voted no action to establish a committee to learn the town’s annual cost of auto and property insurance premiums and claims.

Article proponent Andrew Fischer, Precinct 6 meeting member, said, “Arlington needs new sources of revenue. If the town saves money, we can provide for more police and fire services, and target prevention projects, such as termites.” 

However, board member Dan Dunn said, “I don’t see a direct enough path forward for what the committee could accomplish.”

  • Article 20 Vote/Public Remote Participation

The board voted unanimously to establish guidelines for remote participation by Zoom or other video-conferencing technology by members of the public in public town meetings.

Article sponsor Elizabeth Dray, Precinct 8 meeting member, said that remote access to town meetings during Covid lowered the barriers to participation, increasing accessibility and diversity, and requested this continue after the pandemic. 

"We have enjoyed better participation, from more diverse commentators as a result of remote participation. This is something we should continue and is something we can definitely achieve," said board Chair John Hurd.

However, the board expressed concerns about practicality.

“I support this article in principle, but obstacles such as technology may not be practical. This is not easy to do,” said Dunn.

Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine concurred, “This is technologically and logistically quite complex.”

“This article is for all public bodies,” said board member Diane Mahon, and the town has approximately 120 committees and subcommittees. “We first need to know how much this will cost. I don’t think this will pass the Attorney General’s office ruling.”

“There are very clear rules with respect to remote participation. Offering remote participation doesn’t necessarily address disability access, nor alleviate our requirement to provide physically accessible hearings,” said Town Counsel Heim.

Nevertheless, a dozen town residents spoke in favor of this article. For example:

Darcy Devney, disability commission chair: “We need to think about the logistics, and not make assumptions about the technology.”

Lynette Martyn: “I want to hear more ways of how to make it happen, not reasons we can’t make it happen. Whatever the costs are, we need to prioritize getting disabled people to attend these meetings.” 

Lynette Culverhouse: “Many businesses conduct hybrid meetings across the world. Within Arlington, we have people who could figure out a way to make this happen.”

Carl Wagner: “Previously, people with disabilities couldn’t attend in-person meetings. You don’t want to look like you’re on the wrong side of history.”

  • Article 24 Home Rule Legislation/Ranked Choice Voting

The board voted to elect town officers by ranked-choice voting, using both single and multi (under majoritarian) ranked-choice selection. 

This process enables voters to rank multiple candidates in order of preference, to ensure the election of a candidate with majority support. 

“Proportional voting has a lot of implications. Ranked-choice voting is better in all respects,” said Dunn.

Jennifer Susse, Precinct 3 meeting member, and Select Board candidate, said, “Ranked-choice voting encourages participation, and the voter has a better relationship to the voting process.” 

  • Article 26 Endorsement of CDBG Applications

The board voted to approve the town manager’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) application for fiscal 2022 (July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2022). This is the annual vehicle for the town to consider and endorse CDBG expenditures.

Mallory Sullivan, CDBG administrator, said that Arlington expects to receive $1,090,533 in new funds from the Department of Housing and Urban Development as its entitlement allocation for fiscal 2022. 

The sum of grant requests made by applicants is $1,253,216, and the CDBG’s funding sources match their recommended budget of $1,200,515, added Sullivan.

See the ACMi video of the March 22 meeting:


March 24, 2021: Spring forward: Coming soon are outdoor performances, dining, ACA fund-raiser

 


This news summary, by YourArlington freelance writer Susan Gilbert, was published Thursday, March 25, 2021. It was updated March 26, to correct the action taken for Article 20, and March 28, to add ACMi video window.