Review Ensures a Town Charter That Meets Today’s Needs

By Joan Bowen

In 1974 Bedford adopted a Town Charter that empowered the Town to amend the Town’s form of governance and our bylaws without approval of the state legislature, as previously required.  Built into the Charter is the provision that the Town Charter and Bylaws will be reviewed to identify possible revisions, additions, or deletions.  As stipulated in the Charter, at five-year intervals, a committee is appointed by the Selectmen for this purpose.

Work on the latest review is underway.  Members of the Charter and ByLaws Committee held their first meeting on May 15.  At that meeting, Cathy Cordes was elected chair. Betsey Anderson will serve as clerk.  Other members of the committee include members appointed by the Selectmen (Jan Shepard, Carol Amick, Bruce Murphy, Maria Borino) plus those on the Committee by virtue of an elected position, including Cathy Cordes, Town Meeting Moderator; Jacinda Barbehenn, Planning Board Liaison; Dan Brosgol, School Committee Liaison; and  Ed Pierce, Selectmen Liaison.

Review and assessment of the Charter will initiate the process.  Charter changes require two steps for final adoption.  First, approval at a Town Meeting.  If a recommended Charter change is approved at Town Meeting, then each change must be approved a second time via a Town Election.  Work on the Bylaws follows to incorporate changes that include Charter changes that may impact on the Bylaws.

The initial plan is to present proposed Charter changes at the Special Town Meeting this fall.  Any changes approved by the Special Town Meeting will then appear on the March 2020 ballot as per Charter requirements.  Review of the Town Bylaws will begin in the spring when any Charter revisions are finalized.

Throughout the process there will be opportunities for recommendations from Town boards, committees, departments, and residents.  The focus will be on current provisions of the Charter that may cause a problem today or on ways to improve our governance as identified by the Committee.

The next meeting is scheduled for May 29 at 7 pm at Town Hall.  For an electronic copy of the Charter, go to

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