By Beth David, Editor
Acushnet voters will vote on 18 articles at a special Town Meeting next week, including a zoning bylaw that has stirred up a bit of controversy. The meeting will be held on Monday, 11/6,
Article 12 will allow 55+ housing in three districts using the special permit process. It is allowed now in two districts. The change would allow the denser zoning in all except the business village district and the industrial zone. It would also add design standards and other restrictions.
Town Administrator Jamie Kelley said the restrictions include the number of bedrooms and dwelling units per building.
The bylaw does not allow for large apartment complexes, contrary to the scuttlebutt around town.
“It can be either little houses or a building that can have four units in it,” said Mr. Kelley, like townhouses.
The size of the developments would also be a maximum of 30 acres.
Mr. Kelley also noted that most of Acushnet does not have sewer, so any development will need some sort of septic system, either individual ones or some sort of shared septic for the complex. So that will naturally affect the density of any project.
The use of the Special Permit process allows for further regulation, and requires advertised public hearings, and the input of multiple town boards, so residents will have a chance to influence proposed projects.
The change would be for 55+ developments, which lessens the impact on the school system.
The current bylaw allows for multi-family housing for the elderly with no land use regulations, no design standards, lot size specifications, or occupancy restrictions. The changes would add all those regulations and more. The developments regulated in the bylaw are not public housing.
Article 13 would amend the sewer assessment bylaw. The current bylaw is confusing about how fees are assessed. The changes would clarify the fees to be fair to all property owners, developers, and the town.
A 2/3 vote is required for all bylaw changes.
Town Meeting will also be asked for an additional $75,000 in Community Preservation Act Funds for the Lake Street project. The funds will be used to harvest the weeds from the pond.
Mr. Kelley said the improvements already finished include paving the parking lot, lighting, trail work and more to the recreation area. The original plan had been to use chemicals to control the weeks, but that process will do serious harm to the cranberry growers and wildlife, so the town decided to use another method.
Article 4 asks Town Meeting to rescind the vote from the 5/22/23 annual TM that authorized borrowing $610,000 for an Advanced Life Support (ALS) ambulance. The town needed to show it had the funds to be able to order the ambulance. The plan all along had been to use free cash if possible. There is adequate free cash available, so the town will use that instead of borrowing.
Other capital expenses that will use free cash include $63,000 for a new Dodge Durango or Chevrolet Tahoe for the Fire Chief; $41,128 to close out the leases on two Chevrolet Bolts.
The town will also ask for $15,721 for a Chrysler Voyager for the Council on Aging, purchased through the Mass. Department of Transportation Community Transit Grant Program. The town’s share is 20% of the total.
Article 6 asks for $92,000 from free cash and the ambulance fund for two Cardiac Monitors (AEDs) for the ambulances. The units also act as defibrillators, and will replace the current monitors which have reached the end of their useful life of 10 years.
Article 14 will authorize the Selectboard to sell the Russell Memorial Library building using the RFP (Request for Proposals) process. Using the RFP process will allow the board to impose any number of restrictions on the building, including historical restrictions, use restrictions, etc. The RFP process requires public evaluation of proposals.
Article 15 will authorize the Selectboard to sell or authorize reuse of town parcels under 20,000 square feet using the RFP process.
Town Meeting will also be asked to transfer $100,000 from free cash to the Capital Stabilization Fund; $200,000 to the OPEB trust account (for retirees benefits);
The Golf Committee is asking for a transfer of $125,000 for various capital repair and replacement projects at the Golf Course, including irrigation system repairs; cart path repairs; equipment replacement.
Article 11 asks Town Meeting to change the Special Permit time limit back to two years. During the pandemic the state increased the limit to three years. The change also allows flexibility in granting extensions. The change will prohibit some projects from being “on the shelf” for too long.
Town Meeting will also be asked to approve changes to the collective bargaining agreements for three unions.
The TM warrant is available on the town’s website at https://www. acushnet.ma.us/home/news/special-fall-town-meeting-warrant-11623
Click here to download the 11/2/23 issue: 11-02-23 AcushFireOpenHse
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