After four hours and 20 minutes, town meeting has ended.
Every article in the Town Meeting Warrant passed except article 19, the citizens petition to cut the CPA surcharge in half. The surcharge will remain 3 percent.
It was a good night for the CPA committee and for the Planning and Zoning Board - both of which had all of their articles passed.
All of the Planning and Zoning bylaws passed, but not without discussion.
On in-law apartments, article 43, residents questioned how the article would be policed. Residents expressed concerns on whether the town would be able to police people from renting the apartments to people and how the apartments would be able to restricted to just "in-laws." Planning and Zoning Board members said there was a need for the article, and people were creating inlaw apartments regardless. Despite the concerns of some residents, the article still passed.
All articles since article 26 have easily passed and Town Moving is moving quickly.
The article that ammends building height, article 39, passed. The purpose of the article was to "promote heights that accurately reflect the character of Easton's traditional neighborhoods" by asking that larger houses be moved further back from the street.
After much discussion, article 26, which asks for the town to purchase 16 acres on Chestnut Street through CPA funds, passed.
The article asked for $2,375,000 through bonding to purchase the land, which would become practice fields for many of the town's sports programs and recreation programs.
The center of discussion revolved around traffic. Chestnut Street residents were concerned that people would park on the road and therefore cause a safety hazard.
Ed Hands, a member of the CPA committee that proposed the article, said parking would be provided for residents, and there is room for more parking if necessary. He also said the contractor would not be paid until the project is completed and any material on the site would be removed by the contractor.
Many residents left after the Chestnut Street article was passed. Town Administrator David Colton is now discussing the capital budget in the amount of $3,387,250.
Articles 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, and 25 all passed.
While bonding was the center of discussion for article 20, the purchase of Conservation Restrictions for Gov. Ames Estate, voters decided to vote for the article. It passed easily.
People are now discussing Article 26 - the acquisition of 16 acres off Chestnut Street using CPA funds. This is proposed to also use bonding, but the Finance Committee decided to recommend it because money was available.
Traffic is another discussion topic for this article. The narrow roads near the land have sent residents to the mic to voice their concerns.
The land would be use for multi-purpose recreation fields.
Article 19, the article to cut CPA funding in half from 3 percent to 1.5 percent, did not pass.The surcharge will remain at 3 percent.
Discussion is now centered around the CPA committee's proposal to borrow money to fund the conservation restriction for Governor Ames Estate.
The finance committee and many residents feel the CPA committee should not borrow if the funding is available.
Article 50 was asked to move forward and was later passed by residents at Town Meeting.
The vote came after much discussion as to whether or not to create a "rent control board" for Easton Mobile Parks. Article 50 was a citizens petition brought forward by the homeowners association, which said rent was being raised with no justification.
Those opposed to the article said the town shouldn't be getting involved in the business of one landlord, and said the state already had legislation to protect the homeowners.
We're now at article 15. Every article has passed as written.
Articles 10, 11, and 12, relating to the North Easton Village Wastewater Treatment Facility all passed. There was some discussion regarding explanation for article 10, which sets aside $4.86 million to provide 75 homes with a wastewater treatment facility.
To reiterate, the budget passed with cuts of $600,000 in town government and $900,000 in the school department. 18 positions were cut in the school department, two police officer positions were cut, two firefighter positions were cut, and two DPW positions were cut.
Town Administrator David Colton and Superintendent David Green laid out the reasons for the cuts, including lack of state aid and revenue in the form of excise tax, among other reasons.
This is slightly different than than what was expected. Prior to Town Meeting, selectmen voted to cut $45,000 in the DPW to fund one more position in the fire department.
Next year won't be much better, both Colton and Green said.
"2013 is going to be tight," said Colton. "There are going to be cuts, but I think they will be slightly smaller than this year."
We're on to North Easton Sewer District discussion...
The Finance Committee had asked that the town reduce a proposed position in the collector/treasurer's office to part-time to help further fund the fire department. Town Administrator David Colton said cutting that position would be too strenuous on the flow of town government and the collector/treasurers office.
The motion to ammend the budget failed and the budget passed.
The first seven articles passed easily with no discussion, and now we're on the budget. Board of Selectmen chair Colleen Corona is presenting the article. We'll let you know how discussion goes.
Easton residents are beginning to spill in to the Oliver Ames auditorium for Easton's Annual Town Meeting.
50 warrant articles are on the agenda and residents should be ready for a long evening. If another meeting is to be scheduled, officials said it would likely be next Monday night at the same place.
One item of note before the meeting: Town Administrator David Colton told selectmen that the budget presented as the town's operating budget in article 8 would be slightly different than expected.
As a compromise with the Finance Committee, and through working with Wayne Southworth, Director of the DPW, Colton said he would cut $45,000 from the DPW in order to salvage one firefighter position. The cuts, therefore, include two in the DPW, two in the fire department and two in the police department. That is in addition to the 18 cuts in the school department.