To the Editor,
Town Meetings don’t fairly represent the majority of voters.
The last two town meetings were only attended by 310 and 266 voters out of ~ 4,300 voters (7.2% and 6.2%).
In contrast, typically 50% of citizens turn out to vote at a ballot. Perhaps the frequency of the town meetings is causing voter “burnout” or the distractions of modern-day life (family, business, travel, etc.) causes meetings to be sparsely attended so they don’t fairly represent the majority of the town’s voters. Article 12 seeks to remedy the lack of representation for zoning changes.
Last weeks op-ed in the Cricket erroneously asserted this has never been done in any city or town which is incorrect as we follow this process in Manchester for indebtedness greater than $1M (MBTS General By-Laws P8). Town meeting only needs to approve putting the articles on the ballot for broader consensus.
Last November, the bulk of the proposed zoning articles were passed over due to lack of clarity. At the April Town Meeting, two zoning articles placed on the warrant by the Planning Board were recommended to be passed over by the Planning Board. Zoning articles that were approved in April were amended in June as they were poorly drafted and needed correction. On June 28th, the planning board (per the Town Meeting Minutes) said these were the last of the zoning changes yet major changes that will permanently alter our historic town are on the war-rant again for Monday.
I practice commercial real estate and recently permitted a $20M client project in a nearby town. It took a year and the zoning by-laws in that town never changed during the process. We need to be more deliberate and inclusive in our actions. Vote yes on Article 12.