Plymouth concluded all the business on its fall Town Meeting warrant in about four hours Saturday morning. Here’s a brief summary of the discussions and the decisions. Pick up the Midweek edition of the Old Colony for more on this story.
Article 1 on the warrant for Plymouth’s fall Town Meeting – to ratify contracts with employees to allow Town Hall to return to a five-day work week – passed on a majority voice vote, with Rep. Randy Parker voting in opposition.
Article 2B, which included a $527,000 decrease in the solid waste receipts to reflect the fact that fewer people signed up than originally anticipated, passed with just three votes in opposition. DPW Director Jonathan Beder offered a presentation on the success of the solid waste program, to date, and Town Meeting Rep. Lenny Vaz criticized the program for “trying to shove curbside down our throats.”
During discussion of Article 4D, Town Meeting Rep. Randy Parker suggested cutting the requested $250,000 to rebuild the Warren Cove revetment to $22,500. The town expects to receive grants from MEMA and FEMA to pay for three-quarters of the cost, but the award is not guaranteed.
Parker objected to the idea of paying to protect what he considers to be, in large part, the Bert’s and Pilgrim Sands properties from damage from winter storms. Parker’s attempt to amend the article was defeated. Town Meeting approved $250,000 for the work (75 percent of which is expected to come from state and federal grants) with a majority voice vote.
There was more extensive discussion of Article 4G, a request for $600,000 for a new security system for town buildings.
Rep. Randy Parker suggested cutting the appropriation in half.
Rep. Michael Withington said he was opposed to any expenditure at this time.
Rep. Paul Francis said he was “worried that there is a whole lot more here than meets the eye.”
Plymouth Police Capt. John Rogers said the public safety need for this is apparent; it’s a necessity.
Rep. Wrestling Brewster added that it’s a “heck of a lot of money,” and he’d like to see the article come back to a future meeting, perhaps with just the schools included.
Rep. Tom Kelley countered that “time is of the essence,” and Rep. Keven Joyce concurred that you “can’t put a price tag on security.”
The article passed on a 68-57 roll call vote.
All the other issues on the warrant up to Article 10 – from routine items, such as transferring funds to pay bills from the prior fiscal year, to approval of funding for Fire Department apparatus and work at Stephens Field (the A.K. Finney building project) and on Town Wharf – were all approved before the required mid-session break.
When representatives returned to the auditorium, Article 10, to accept the PILOT (Payment In Lieu Of Taxes) agreement between the town and Pilgrim-owner Entergy Corp. (for a total of $28,750,000 over three years), passed unanimously with no questions or concerns raised.
Article 15, which creates a process for establishing a fund to pay for “compensated absences,” money owed to retiring employees for accumulated vacation and/or sick time, passed on a 67-52 vote. Many Town Meeting representatives objected to the concept of employees being paid for their accumulated sick time, and the vote was close, but establishment of the fund was approved.
Town Meeting also approved a new PILOT agreement for solar farms built on private property (Article 12), featuring a $12,000 payment per megawatt with a 2.5 percent increase per year.
Representatives also passed Article 14 (regarding premiums on the Plymouth North High School bonds), the purchase with CPA funds of property off Carter’s Bridge Road (Article 16A), to authorize selectmen to purchase and/or exchange land on Plymouth Long Beach (Article 18), to approve a TIF (Tax Increment Financing) agreement with Opthalmic Consultants of Boston (Article 21) and to allow the School Committee to enter into and extend renewable entergy power purchases (articles 19 and 20)..
Article 24 on the warrant would have rewritten the town’s wind energy facilities bylaw by limiting the placement of commercial wind turbines to two specific areas in town, reducing the height allowed, and increasing the minimum distance required between a turbine and the nearest residence.
Debate centered on whether this would move the town from a policy that was too liberal to one that was too restrictive – an argument that, at times, brought together wind energy proponents and environmental activists.
For approval, this bylaw change required the support of two-thirds of the representatives casting votes, but the proposal did not even win simple majority support. The roll call vote recorded 49 in favor and 68 opposed.
At the close of the meeting, representatives also approved articles 27A and 27B – a swap of land between the town and Pinehills LLC, and adding a former gravel pit to The Pinehills plus a and modification to The Pinehills master plan.
There were no motions and, therefore, no action on the two citizen-petitioned articles (numbers 28 and 29) on the warrant, one dealing with a beach rake and beach cleanup and the other a proposed ban on using non-domesticated animals for entertainment in Plymouth.
The fall Town Meeting was dissolved at 12:15 p.m.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding