Town Meeting concluded Tuesday night after two nights of deliberations and residents voting on a total of 31 articles.
Nearly 300 people packed the Bourne High School auditorium both Monday and Tuesday night to voice their vote on both the Annual and Special Town Meeting warrants.
Tuesday night, eight articles remained on the Annual Town Meeting warrant following Monday night’s session.
After swiftly going through seven of the remaining articles, more than an hour was devoted to the last one, Article 23. That measure requested $250,000 to the group looking to transform the old Ella F. Hoxie Elementary School in Sagamore Beach into a new arts, education and cultural center.
Little opposition to the article was voiced and after a secret ballot vote, Article 23 was approved by a vote of 186 to 36.
Also Tuesday night, residents rejected Article 14 of Annual Town Meeting. The article was a request from Darren J. Martin of Sagamore Beach for the town to petition the state to overturn the civil service requirement that a brand new police officer be no older than 32 years old. The change would allow Mr. Martin to apply to the Bourne Police Department. The 45-year-old told the audience that he already received retirement benefits from a previous job so having to pay him benefits should not be a concern. He said that he also has health insurance so that would not be an expense to the town.
Bourne police chief Dennis R. Woodside recalled that the town had previously granted such an exemption to Patrolman Drew Lonergan. Chief Woodside noted that Mr. Lonergan had already worked for the town for a number of years as a special police officer and a summer police officer when the age waiver request was approved at Town Meeting.
“I don’t feel that this exception should be granted,” the chief said.
Residents agreed and rejected the article.
Monday night, residents unanimously approved Article 3 of the Annual Town Meeting, the $55.35 million operational budget for the coming year. Bourne Finance Committee chairman Michele P. Ford presented the article and told residents that while the budget is balanced, “it is unsustainable for another year.”
“We must immediately begin discussions and make the hard decisions about the level of services we expect and are willing to pay for,” Ms. Ford said.
No action was taken on Article 8, a request for a zoning change on a parcel of land at the corner of Adams Street and Cranberry Highway in South Sagamore. The change would have extended the business zoning district in that area. The article drew some controversy when the advertising for a Bourne Planning Board public hearing on the measure did not list all the names of the property owners who would have been affected by the change. The Bourne Board of Selectmen sought a legal opinion on the legality of the article from town counsel Robert S. Troy. Mr. Troy determined that the posting for the hearing was done legally and a vote on the article could be held. However, the finance committee recommended the article be indefinitely postponed.
Finance committee chairman Michele P. Ford explained that the request to the town for the zoning change had come from someone with an option to purchase the parcel of land noted in the article. The buyer has since told the planning board that they can proceed with their plans without the change, so the planning board was going to revote their position.
“So, we felt that indefinite postponement was the appropriate action to take,” she said.
Residents also approved Article 15, adoption of the new federally mandated floodplain maps and regulations. Bourne Finance Committee member George G. Slade explained there are consequences to not adopting the new maps and regulations. Bourne residents would not be able to buy federal flood insurance at any price, and without flood insurance no one in a flood zone would be able to get or keep a mortgage. Also, if a flood disaster is declared, residents, as well as the town, would not be eligible for federal disaster relief benefits. The article required a two-thirds majority vote. It was passed unanimously.
Residents rejected Article 18, a petition that called for the town to place on the next election ballot a question asking whether Bourne should request to be released from the authority of the Cape Cod Commission. Selectmen Linda M. Zuern and Donald E. (Jerry) Ellis argued in favor of the motion. Finance committee member Judith A. Conron, Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority chairman Thomas S. Cahir, Gray Gable resident Eugene R. Curry and Buzzards Bay resident James M. Mulvey all argued against it.
Voters rejected the motion 128 to 103.
From the Special Town Meeting warrant, residents approved Article 4, a request for an additional $975,000 to the budget for construction of the new Department of Public Works building in Bournedale. The additional money will pay for a fuel island containing two 10,000-gallon gasoline tanks, a canopy at the rear of the building to protect equipment parked outside, a security camera system and fencing around the perimeter of the property. The article required 194 yea votes to pass. It passed overwhelmingly by a margin of 246 to 45.
From the Special Town Meeting warrant, funding requests approved included Article 1 asking that $450,000 from free cash and $350,000 from capital stabilization be transferred to the town’s stabilization fund; payment of $8,090 in unpaid bills under Article 3; transferal of $16,806 from the undesignated fund balance of the community preservation fund to the reserves for Open Space, Historic Resources and Community Housing under Article 5; and $402,433 under Article 7 for various Open Space, Historic Preservation and Recreation projects.
Article 2 of the Special Town Meeting warrant asked to amend the town’s bylaw regarding underground storage regulations. The article corrected some incorrect references to state regulations that were enacted during last year’s Town Meeting. The measure passed unanimously.
Residents also approved Article 6, granting an easement over Bourne Conservation Commission land allowing for a water line to property on Bassett’s Island owned by Frank H. Jablonski. The line would connect the property to municipal water and replace the use of a well on the property.
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Remaining articles on the Annual Town Meeting warrant included funding requests for Article 3, asking for $844,652 to operate the Sewer Department; $200,000 under Article 6 to the town’s general reserve fund; $8,666,564 under Article 7 to operate the Integrated Solid Waste Management program; $405,000 to the town’s revolving funds account under Article 8; $2,281,752 under Article 9 for capital improvements and projects; close out $378,646 from previous articles and transfer the funds to the free cash, waterway and stabilization accounts under Article 11; $846,965 for Open Space, Historic Preservation, Community Housing and Community Preservation Act purposes under Article 12; and $50,000 to cover the administrative and operating expenses of the Community Preservation Committee under Article 13.
Voters also approved Article 5, requiring that all Chapter 90 funds from the state be spent under the direction of Department of Public Works superintendent George W. Sala with the approval of the board of selectmen.
Passage of Article 16 authorized selectmen to seek an amendment to town bylaw governing the Charter Compliance Committee. The amendment would delete the requirement that at least one member of the committee will live in each of the town’s six precincts.
A local meals tax requested in Article 17 passed, as did Article 21, a motion to strike the $50 fine for cruelty to animals in the town’s bylaws. The motion called for the penalty for such a crime to be made consistent with Massachusetts General Law, which allows for imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $2,000.