“In the name of the commonwealth, you are directed to notify and warn the inhabitants of Plymouth, qualified to consider and vote on articles at fall annual Town Meeting of the town of Plymouth, to meet at Plymouth North High School Saturday … at 8 a.m.”
That’s basically how the warrant for the fall, and all Town Meetings, begins. How and when it ends, however, is anybody’s guess.
But there are a few comfortable predictions.
First, Town Meeting representatives will be excited by their fancy new digs. This is the first meeting that will take place in the performing arts center at the new Plymouth North High School.
Second, something will go wrong. Not all the microphones will work. Somebody will not have a place to sit. A fancy PowerPoint presentation will have to be jettisoned. It’s simply Murphy’s Law.
Last, but not least, it’s likely that hundreds of residents will be frustrated when they tune in to PACTV and don’t see Town Meeting.
Fear not, Town Meeting is being cablecast Saturday, but not on the government access channel (15 for Comcast cutomers and 47 for Verizon subscribers). You can watch it, beginning at 8 a.m., on Plymouth’s educational channel, located on Comcast channel 14 or Verizon Channel 45.
There are 35 numbered articles on the warrant but 12 were withdrawn and, in the case of several others, the original petitioners have said they will ask that no action be taken.
During the first six articles (unless they are taken out of order), representatives will be asked to approve new collective bargaining agreements, pay bills or supplement budgets, make a variety of capital improvements or purchases and establish several new revolving funds for parking-related expenses in the town’s five villages.
Article 8 offers what might have been seen a few months ago as a potential stumbling block, as it’s associated with efforts to redevelop the downtown area around the 1820 Courthouse.
It asks Town Meeting to authorize the Board of Selectmen to “convey, by sale, lease or otherwise… (to the Board of Selectmen) the property known as 1820 Plymouth County Courthouse, the Commissioner’s Building, and the old police station and the surrounding parcels.”
Last spring, the Plymouth Redevelopment Authority successfully lobbied against transferring one small part of this area – a former school parking lot. Now, the PRA is expected to voice its consent, an indication that the parties involved in the development of the Courthouse may finally be on the same page.
n the middle of the meeting, the three articles associated with the Community Preservation Act are expected to be the subject of serious and potentially lengthy debate.
Article 16A seeks approval to use CPA funds to allow the Greater Plymouth Performing Arts Center to transform what is now the Congregation Beth Jacob Community Center (originally the Plymouth Methodist Church), at 25 1/2 Court St., at the corner of Brewster Street, into a 200-seat performing arts center.
Questions have been raised about the building’s condition, and whether it would create competition for events at Memorial Hall, located about 350 yards north on Court Street.
Articles 16B and 16C are more traditional CPA proposals, both seeking to acquire open space.
Article 16C will receive greater scrutiny, largely because of the size of the acquisition (more than 350 acres) and the price tag – $3 million. But the CPC is ready with a strong argument for the benefits of protecting what is seen as the next decade’s most precious natural resource – water.
Public works, planning and zoning proposals comprise most of the remaining articles, and few, if any, are expected to generate much interest or opposition.
The final chance for Town Meeting representatives to practice their rhetorical skills is likely to be Article 33, which would implement a two-year moratorium on large-scale wind turbine proposals.
Originally placed on the warrant by voter petition, this issue has already been extensively vetted by both the Planning Board and the Board of Selectmen. At meetings of both numerous people spoke for each side with well reasoned (and lengthy) arguments.