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September 28, 2022, Town Meeting
A summary of warrant articles up for discussion and vote
Our fall Town Meeting will be held on Wednesday, September 28, 2022, at 7:00 PM in the BHS Fogelberg auditorium with no hybrid option; here are the articles up for discussion. I am summarizing, paraphrasing, and otherwise stealing from the official documentation, the Warrant and Backup (supporting documentation) which can be found in the Town Meeting section of the Town Clerk’s website. For clarification, please go there. There is additional documentation on that website that didn’t make it into the official backup, as well.
After Town meeting, I’ll be sure to update this document so you can see how the votes went.
Town Meeting, September 28, 2022
Article 1 - This just says Town Meeting will hear reports from town officers and committees.
Kerry from the Housing Partnership presented a very thorough Housing Needs Assessment, funds for which were authorized by Town Meeting last May.
Burlington needs a greater variety of housing types.
Home ownership is unattainable for many.
We need more Affordable housing (deed-restricted housing that can’t cost more than 30% of the owner’s income); otherwise folks will be displaced.
Making home ownership more accessible is going to take a multi-pronged approach.
Article 2 - Annual town election date. This is set for April 1; TM just needs to approve it. - PASSED
Article 3 - This just allows us to accept $70,382.69 from the will of Marshall Simonds to support the park. This money has been used for the care and maintenance of the park in many different ways, but most recently went (in conjunction with a donation from the Gillingham family) toward the construction of the accessible treehouse, whose construction is in progress. - PASSED
Article 4 - This is a request for $150,000 for a feasibility study for a new police station. This study would determine how much space is needed and review several sites to see which can provide the best space for the station. A schematic and a cost estimate will also come out of this study. - PASSES
Articles 5-9 are requests to move funds from the Negotiated Settlements account to the proper line item for the Firefighters’, Municipal Employees’, DPW Employees’, Administrative & Professional, and Part-Time Compensation Plans. I believe these were withdrawn from the May Town Meeting because the negotiations hadn’t been finalized; it’s possible some will be withdrawn this time around, as well. If they are, the salaries (which are already figured into our budget) will continue to be paid under the current contract, and any necessary arrears will be paid for raises or other increases by check when the contract is finalized.
Article 5: Firefighter’s contract (2.5% raise, some changes to training requirements) - $186,216 (transfer from existing budget, not new funding) - PASSED
Articles 6/7/8 - WITHDRAWN
Article 9: Part time compensation - $8,244 - PASSED
Article 10 - Form Based Code Creation: This is not a very obvious name, but it is a really interesting project that I recommend every resident read more about (starting on p.14 of the Warrant Backup. Essentially, there has been an ongoing investigation to figure out how to best use the area bordered roughly by Mall Road, Route 3, Blanchard road, and Cambridge Street. The ideas they have for this area are pretty interesting and innovative. I suspect there will be a presentation about this by Economic Development, but if you don’t plan to watch, I highly recommend you read that backup to get an idea of the plans the town and its residents have come up with for how to modernize the space. Anyway, the code creation part of it is that they want to request funding to create new zoning for that area to fall in line with the plans for the area. They have a very thorough plan for how this will be developed and have already secured a grant that will cover almost 40% of the study. They’re asking for the remaining $80,000. - PASSED
Article 11 - Middle School social studies digital curriculum contract of 6 years. Apparently contracts longer than 3 years need to go through TM, but also 6 one-year contracts would cost nearly a quarter of a million dollars, while one 6-year contract will cost $80,000. lol. Gotta love software as a service. Note: this funding has already been approved by Town Meeting, this is just to approve the 6-year contract. - PASSED
Article 12 - It’s finally here! After talking about stormwater management bylaws for, like, eight months, we finally get to see the new proposed stormwater management bylaw. The gist is this (but please read the warrant, because there are a lot of words there and I can’t begin to paraphrase them all): If folks plan to disturb more than 5% of their land during a building project, there will be a permit required. 5-10% (and less than 20,000 sqft) will be an abbreviated stormwater permit; 10-20% (or more than 20,000 sqft) will be a standard stormwater permit. The standard stormwater permit will require plans stamped by a civil engineer. I won’t get into the weeds here, because we definitely could, but if you’re interested in this kind of thing take a look at the Warrant, starting on p.7 and going to approximately infinity. - PASSED
Article 13 - Seeks to establish a permanent Housing Partnership committee. From the article: “The Burlington Housing Partnership Committee (hereinafter referred to as BHPC) shall consider all matters relating to the housing needs in Burlington with particular attention to housing opportunities that are affordable to residents of all income levels and abilities. The Committee shall seek to expand the inventory of decent, safe, and affordable housing and housing related programs.” This has been an ad hoc committee for over 30 years, and they’re seeking a bylaw change to make it into a standing committee. - PASSED
Article 14 - Seeks to define “Smoke Shop” in the zoning bylaws. The purpose of that is to restrict where a smoke shop can open and operate in town. Here’s the backup explaining the change and what it would mean. It’s a quick 4 slides, so worth a peek if you have an opinion or are curious about that kind of thing. - FAILED
The gist of the conversation here was the tension between not being exactly comfortable with smoke shops being in areas that kids frequent and not wanting to codify what is essentially a moral judgment of what people should and should not be doing into our zoning bylaws. Overwhelmingly Town meeting voted against this proposal.
Article 15 - Groundwater separation - seeks to impose limits on how closely a foundation can sit to the estimated seasonal high groundwater table without installing infiltration. From the article, “The purpose of this bylaw is to preserve and protect groundwater; to maintain and enhance the public safety, environment, health, and general welfare by establishing minimum requirements; and to establish procedures to control the adverse effects of building basement floors below the (ESHGWT), including basement flooding, pumping and discharge of groundwater to neighboring properties, discharging groundwater to the public way, and illicit connections to the Town sewer and stormwater connections.” - PASSED
The only real point of debate here was that the minimum threshold should be lower. Planning Board urged the body to vote the bylaw through so there is some protection, and then in January they can bring it back and make that small change.
That’s it. Fingers crossed we’ll be looking at one evening. (And we accomplished that, too! In fact, we were done by 10:00.)