The Town of Brookline will have its Annual Town Meeting on Tuesday, May 24 at 7pm at Brookline High School. Town members will review and vote on 23 Articles in a warrant. The Board of Selectmen, town departments and Brookline residents have submitted Articles during the Warrant opening, which was from February 11 to March 10. Articles range in many topics, such as budget proposals, resolutions, recognitions, zoning and general by-laws. Ten articles were submitted by citizens and 13 were submitted by the Board of Selectmen or town departments.
The meeting is one of two town meetings. The other is the Special Town Meeting held in November during the week before Thanksgiving. The Special Town Meeting is also another meeting for reviewing and voting on articles, but without the article for budgeting a fiscal year, as November is at mid-point of a fiscal year. The first five articles are standard, because they are submitted for review every year before the town’s Annual Town Meeting, and are typically not reviewed at the Special Town Meeting.
The following are all 23 Articles with brief explanations. They were written with the help of Ernest Frey, a longtime Brookline resident, a Brookline Town Meeting Member, and the President of the Brookline Town Meeting Members Association.
1. Appointment of Measurers of Wood and Bark
Two town employees are appointed and acknowledged at Town Meetings as measurers of wood and bark. The Selectman appoints them. It’s an old requirement position that goes back to 1830s in Brookline. The position involves ruling whether the measure of wood in bulk that a Brookline resident buys is a fair deal or not. There used to be as many as five measurers because wood heating and regulating firewood was important back in the 1800s.
2. Approval of Collective Bargaining Agreements
If there are any contract agreements pursued between the Human Resource Department and union groups in town, then those agreements must be presented at the meeting for approval of funding regarding the collective bargaining agreement.
3. Annual Authorization of Compensating Balance Agreements
This looks at the agreement between the town treasurer and banks on ways of banking.
4. Report on the Close-out of Special Appropriations / Bond Authorization Rescission
This looks at the bond status and updates of any appropriations from past years of town service projects and approves the list of recurring projects.
“When a bond is voted by town meeting, it’s a commitment over a number of years, and some of those bonds mature, the project finishes, and this states which bonds have been satisfied and retired,” said Frey.
5. Approval of Unpaid Bills of a Prior Fiscal Year
The town has utility bills that apply to service work during the FY2016, and it can only be paid out of the FY2016 budget by the matter of Town Meeting. This article looks to Town Meetings for approval of any late billings that may need to source from the FY2017 budget. “Bill utilities traveling are reviewed by the treasurer and looks at it and says ‘yup, we do owe the bill of electrical supplies water.’ Sometimes people are not anxious to get their money or there is a mix-up in the billing process by the people who are suppose to be paying,” Frey said.
6. Acceptance of Legislation to Increase Property Tax Exemptions
This article looks to permit reducing the bases for the tax with regard to the valuation of property and paying property tax. “We want to give favor to veterans or blind residents or our elderly people, so they prepare a reduction schedule, and they indicated how much property taxes will be surrendered,” Frey said.
In this case and for this upcoming meeting, the Town’s Enterprise Fund provides for the The Golf Enterprise Fund. This article also looks to have the Golf Course Fund be able to pay for parts of money it borrowed for its projects. The FY2017 Budget for Enterprises increase by 4.4 percent from last fiscal year.
8. Annual (FY17) Appropriations Article
Submitted by the Advisory Committee
It is the most important article of the warrant and is only submitted for the Annual Town Meeting in May. It looks at how it will disperse its FY2017 budget among departments, in addition to other projects in town. “It takes a lot of time at Town Meeting, probably about an hour to an hour and a half to discuss. Usually that is the last article of night one. The moderator moves through the budget, then there is an opportunity for people to talk to the department head on how it’s run,” Frey said.
9. Amendment to Article 3.12 of the Town’s General By-laws – Department of Planning and Community Development
The Planning and Community Development Department of The Economic Development Division wants to incorporate Long Range Planning. “It’s looking into ‘what do we want to do build, how much open space would we like to have, and how would we handle housing projects’ – that’s a big one. It formalizes the function into a specific department. They are already doing it, but it’s not defined, this puts it in one spot,” Frey said.
Petition of John Ross, MD and Megan Sandel, MD
“One of the controversial articles,” Frey said. “Based on the public meetings that have been held on this article already. It appears that this article will be referred to a committee. Some of the ma and pa shops or the gas stations oppose this article.”
11. Adoption of Article 8.37 of the Town’s By-Laws – Tree Protection By-law
This topic about trees has been discussed for a long time. “If you’re a property owner you should feel like you should do anything with the trees on your property, that might be great for you, but it might not be beneficial for the town,” Frey said. The article looks into ways to maintain trees that benefit the appearance of the town.
12. Amendment to Table 5.01 – Table of Dimensional Requirements - of the Town’s Zoning By-Law – pertaining to side yard setbacks
This article looks to provide more yard space for homes and prevent overcrowding of land.
13. Amendment to Section 5.09 of the Town’s Zoning By-Law – Design Review- requiring timely notice of neighborhood meetings for major impact projects
Frey submitted this article after having had received a notification about zoning changes to a building just two days before a neighborhood meeting. He said that although those who put out the meeting didn’t violate any zoning by-laws in giving short notice, he petitioned for a requirement of notification within seven days when it comes to Major Impact Projects, which is work done on buildings of 16 units or more.
“If somebody wants to build a new kitchen within their apartment or home, that’s fine,” Frey said. “But if you’re talking about a 29-unit apartment building that’s expanding to a parking lot, then that’s a major project.”
14. Acceptance of the provisions of Section 148C of Chapter 149 of the Massachusetts General Laws, the Earned Sick Time Law
This article is to reinforce the sick time law, and that part time employees are to receive sick time benefits. “This came up a couple times before town,” Frey said. “It’s unfortunate that this has to be coming up again, but it is.”
15. Authorization for the granting and acquisition of permanent easements related to the Carlton Street Footbridge Rehabilitation Project
Article 15 is regarding the Carlton Street Footbridge Rehabilitation project that was scheduled in FY2016, as an effort to place a walking bridge across the T tracks for people to cross between Brookline and Boston. Since the project is still ongoing, Article 15 looks to have temporary authorization for MassDOT to work on constructing the easements on the pathway of the footbridge for pedestrian safety.
16. Authorization for the acquisition of temporary easements related to the Carlton Street Footbridge Rehabilitation Project
This article looks to have the Board of Selectman seek temporary construction easements from the City of Boston and Massachusetts Department of Transportation, Rail and Transit Division for construction regarding the Carlton Street Footbridge Rehabilitation Project. It also asks for the Board of Selectmen to provide more money for the project if necessary, and money should come from the Town’s bond fund that was approved for the project back at the Special Town Meeting that took place on Nov. 17, 2009.
17. Resolution Regarding the Mechanization of Trash Pickup by the Town
Petition of Harry Friedman
This article wants the Department of Public Works to provide exceptions to those who live in homes where storing Toter Carts used for trash is an issue, to not have to use Toter Carts. This would apply to those who don’t have driveways or backyards, and have limited basement storage. Also, maneuvering Toter Carts at least every trash pick up day can be too bulky and too much weight for the elderly.
18. Resolution Regarding the Placement of a historic plaque at the site of the former St. Aidan’s Church
This article asks the Board of Selectmen to bring attention to a historic plaque at the site of the former St. Aidan’s Church to acknowledge the church’s life and history.
19. Resolution Honoring former Town resident Roland Hayes
Submitted by the Brookline Committee of the Town of Brookline Department of Diversity, Inclusion and Community Relations
This article wants to bring attention to honor Roland Hayes’ life and his musical career. It seeks to have his legacy taught in Brookline schools’ curricula. Also, there will be a ceremonial dedication of a plague to Hayes and his former home, located at 58 Allerton Street for Brookline residents to join on June 12, 2016.
20. Resolution calling for an end to the U.S. Economic, Commercial, and Financial Embargo against Cuba
Article 20 asks the Brookline Town Meetings to support The Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act of 2015, showing a position of support to Congress. It also asks the Town of Brookline to end any U.S. embargo against Cuba.
21. Resolution Affirming Brookline’s Commitment to Solar Electricity (Photovoltaics)
Article 21 asks that the Town of Brookline support the Solar Energy program in Massachusetts by sending letters to state and nationals officials.
22. Resolution Opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Any Similar Trade Agreements
This article is regarding a matter that is external to the state of Massachusetts. It asks our elected representatives to oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. “Our town meeting members cannot pass or reject it. All we can do is voice our opinion. If this warrant passes, our town officials would send letters to elected officials, the Senate, and the House of Representatives to oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” Frey said.
23. Reports of Town Officers and Committees
Reports about warrant from past committee meetings held prior to town meetings are presented in written format.
By Vekonda Luangaphay