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Saugus Town Meeting kicks off

Saugus —

Town Meeting members accepted several streets in order to increase Chapter 90 state aid and dispatched of a handful of articles that weren’t properly submitted on the warrant during the first annual Town Meeting session.

Forty-four of the 50 elected members showed up for the start of Town Meeting on May 7. The session began with a moment of silence of Doug Cooper, the former president of the Saugus Veterans Council who passed away earlier this year.

When it came down to business Town Meeting members couldn’t take up any financial articles because the Finance Committee has yet to vote its recommendations with a forensic audit by accounting firm Powers & Sullivan still pending.

Before taking any votes Town Meeting members heard presentations from several committees established by the legislative body.

Alternative Energy Committee Chairman Joanne Vannah provided an update on the wind project feasibility study that will determine if wind turbines are suitable off Route 107.

Vannah said a meteorological tower was erected in February that is recording wind speeds in the area near Rumney Marsh. The data is coming in and a firm will analyze the numbers to see if the wind averages a high enough speed to sustain wind turbines.

The plan, Vannah said, is to hold a public forum in September or October to present the data. She also touched on the considerable potential of wind turbines to generate revenue for the town.

Sidewalk Committee Chairman Peter Manoogian brought Town Meeting members up to speed about how the committee is breaking into teams to analyze handicap accessible sidewalk ramps completed in recent years to find out how contractors are performing.

Jeff Moses of the Ambulance Study Committee also spoke about his committee’s progress investigating the feasibility of implementing a town-run ambulance service.

The final report came from Town Manager Scott Crabtree, who explained the town is facing a financial crisis with a conservative estimate of a deficit in the range of $3-4 million.

Crabtree said he is still waiting on the final two audit reports from Powers & Sullivan, but warned changes will have to be made based on the findings so far that will have a significant impact on services.

With the financial articles off the table for the time being, Town Meeting members first took up articles 19-24.

Town Moderator Bob Long explained that the Board of Selectmen hadn’t voted to put articles 19-24 on the warrant. They had all been referred to the next special Town Meeting or annual Town Meeting in the past.

Upon the advice of Town Counsel John Vasapolli, Town Meeting members voted unanimously to indefinitely postpone articles 19-24. Long raised the possibility that the articles could be taken up at a future special Town Meeting.

Town Meeting members also voted unanimously to accept several streets to boost the town’s Chapter 90 haul. The streets accepted include Athens Drive, Hickory Lane, Sycamore Lane, Hull Drive, Laurine Road, Manter Court, Stillings Road and Thistle Road.

Most of the night’s discussion focused on Article 45, a request from attorney Richard Magnan to rezone the property at 10 Lynn Fells Parkway from B-3 business special to R-2 single-family residential.

Magnan said his client wants to subdivide a vacant lot and construct two single-family homes on the property. Any development would be subject to Conservation Commission approval as the lot is classified as wetlands with a brook running through the area.

Manoogian asked Precinct 9 Town Meeting members to weigh in on the proposal given the drainage issues that have plagued Lynn Fells Parkway in the past.

Several Precinct 9 Town Meeting members supported the proposal, including Ed Boesel, who contended he has great faith in the Conservation Commission’s judgment and in his view felt it was reasonable and proper to rezone the property to single-family residential.

Another Town Meeting member, Peter Rossetti Jr., said downzoning from business to residential limits what kind of structure could be built on the property.

After a brief discussion Town Meeting members voted 41-1 in favor of Article 45. Town Meeting will reconvene on Monday, May 21, at 7:30 p.m. at Town Hall.