By Kim Siebert MacPhail
While the Annual Town Meeting warrant is not yet closed, a preliminary tally presented at the Selectmen’s meeting on Monday night shows 34 articles—17 with approaching dates for public hearings that serve to gather citizen input before the warrant is finalized.
Of note are eleven sign bylaw amendments. Review of the proposed sign bylaw changes is scheduled for the next Selectmen’s meeting, on Monday, February 4. A draft of the revisions—as well as a new user-friendly chart showing guidelines by sign type and town district—can be accessed on the Town website: http://www.town.bedford.ma.us/index.php/committees/committees-q-z/sign-bylaw-review-committee
Additionally, two salary administration bylaw amendments are on the Selectmen’s agenda for public hearing on February 4. Largely, these articles are housekeeping items, left over from the now-disbanded Bylaw and Charter Review Committee. One of the articles recommends, for example, the elimination of references to the Town’s former “Personnel Board” replacing those words with “Town Manager throughout the bylaw.” This change would reflect current practice and identify the Town Manager as the authority who determines salary classifications and makes decisions about other employee-related matters—such as sick leave, vacation days and holidays.
An article that addresses the consolidation of Bedford’s several affordable housing committees will also have its public hearing on February 4.
Two DPW-based articles are scheduled for hearings at the Selectmen’s meeting on February 11. One deals with using copper piping on newly constructed residences “from the water meter to an outside sill cock for the purposes of providing continuity so that the Water Division can locate the buried water service” and another proposes to bury utility wires in the center of town, from Bacon Road down North Road and past the intersection with Carlisle Road.
The move toward requiring copper piping is based on the DPW’s frequent need to locate residential water lines. Plastic material, commonly used for residential water mains, does not emit a detectable signal, wasting time and effort for work crews. While it was acknowledges that copper does cost more than plastic, the length of pipe required is short, and— according to DPW Director Rich Warrington— the dollar amount this adds to the price tag of a newly constructed home is negligible. Existing houses would be exempt from the copper piping requirement.
The second DPW-sponsored article requiring a public hearing seeks permission to bury the utility wires in the center of town. To move this initiative forward, residents would have agree to a 2% surcharge on “all electric, telephone and cable TV bills” collected by the utility companies until the cost of the work has been satisfied.
The public hearing for Community Preservation projects is scheduled for February 7 at 7:30 in the Town Hall Multipurpose Room. On the list for discussion are projects that include several items from the Capital Expenditures process—Minuteman Bikeway refurbishment ($125,000), Middle School tennis court reconstruction ($122,000), Town systems renewal ($59,500), and athletic field design at the former St. Michael’s property located at 9 Mudge/7 Liljegren Way.
Articles already cleared for inclusion on the warrant that do not require future public hearings, address issues like street acceptances, operating budgets, bonds for water main improvements and other capital items like the replacement of a ladder truck, a new emergency dispatch center and energy-reduction projects.
Following the rounds of public hearings, the Selectmen will determine which articles they will place on the Annual Town Meeting (ATM) warrant. This year, ATM begins on Monday, April 1.