To The Voters: An Annual Town Meeting Message from Selectman Mike Rosenberg

By Mike Rosenberg

The days are getting longer and warmer, and that means spring is on the way: green grass, redwing blackbirds, baseball and lacrosse, and, here in Bedford, Annual Town Meeting.

The articles listed in this Annual Town Meeting Warrant comprise the operational needs and proposals for improvements to Town services for Fiscal Year 2018. They reflect information furnished to the Selectmen, Finance Committee, and Capital Expenditure Committee by various Town departments, boards, and committees. Various boards, committees, and staff have all participated in the process of formulating the Warrant in the hope that the articles presented here will sustain and enhance the quality of life for the citizens of Bedford. Recommendations are provided as guidelines for your consideration. Following are some highlights.

The warrant contains five proposed amendments to the General Bylaw, Articles 6-10, with each requiring a simple majority of votes for approval. One of these is new. It proposes eliminating the use of thin-film single- use plastic bags by all business establishments. The others are fine-tuning of current bylaw sections. They permanently allow revolving funds that now require annual authorization; establish expenditure limits for the funds; update the demolition delay procedure; and add sewer connection fees charged to new hotels, motels, and extended-stay facilities.

Each of the four proposed amendments to the Zoning Bylaw requires a two-third majority for approval. Article 11 would limit a medical marijuana dispensary to the industrial district east of Route 3. Article 12 regulates the erection of fences higher than six feet. Article 13 clarifies references to the zoning map and Article 14 allows the use of an on-site temporary dwelling if a residence is destroyed or damaged by a fire or natural disaster. There’s also Article 5, a proposed professional community needs assessment that would help the Council on Aging develop a strategic plan.

The Capital Projects Plan (Article 20), the Operating Budget (Article 25) and the Ambulance Enterprise Budget (Article 26) fund the Town’s continuing operations. Details about these budgets can be found in the reports of the Capital Expenditure Committee and Finance Committee that follow in the next several pages. The Capital Projects Plan requests funds for 40 projects, ranging from school technology and maintenance and a library heating and ventilation study, to new Town vehicles, water meter replacements, building maintenance and repairs, and a new Concord River boat landing dock. The Operating Budget funds all departments’ day-to-day operations.

Article 21 would appropriate funds under the Community Preservation program for projects in Fiscal Year 2018, as well as for principal and interest payments previously approved. Projects include a subsidy for new units of affordable housing; improvements on and around the Jenks Nature Trail; a feasibility study for expanded community gardens; repairs to the skate park; and signage along and adjacent to the Minuteman Bikeway, some of which will designate nearby destinations. Article 28 continues the Town’s funding of a portion of the liability in the category of OPEB (other post-employment benefits), primarily for retiree health insurance.

Please bring the Warrant Report to Town Meeting, which begins on Monday, March 27, 2017, at 7:30 p.m. in the high school auditorium. The session will continue to Tuesday, March 28, and if necessary, Town Meeting will resume on Monday and Tuesday, April 3 and 4. Your participation is central to the success of our Town Meeting form of government and we look forward to seeing you there.

Editor’s Note: This article also appears in the 2017 Annual Meeting Warrant Report for Bedford, Massachusetts

 


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