WILLIAMSTOWN -- Residents will get the chance to vote on an article Selectmen originally rejected for the special town meeting scheduled for Wednesday, April 24.
The article, which asks voters whether land transfers for affordable housing purposes would be approved by a majority vote as opposed to a two-thirds vote, failed to make the warrant during the board’s March 25 meeting after a vote of 2-2.
At Monday’s Board of Selectmen meeting, Chairman David Rempell motioned for a separate town meeting, to begin at 7:25 p.m. on April 24, five minutes before the previously scheduled meeting is set to begin. Rempell reasoned that if people were for some reason uninformed of the meeting, they would be present for the previously posted and scheduled special town meeting.
"I don’t remember any time on my years on the board that we have denied people the ability to vote on an article," Rempell said at Monday’s meeting. "No matter what the article might say, I believe people in town have the right to express their opinion by voting."
Selectman Ron Turbin said he would vote against the article, as it would allow the Lowry property to be transferred out of the Conservation Commission’s care under a majority vote of special town meeting.
"My opinion is that in 1987, Williamstown citizens voted Lowry into conservation and assumed it would have all the protection of Article 97, which protects conservation land and calls for a two-thirds vote to vote it in and out," Turbin said.
Longview Terrace resident Bob Scerbo advocated against the article, which calls for adopting part of Chapter 40, the Massachusetts law allowing developers of affordable housing to override some local zoning.
"People need to understand that ... it’s just the beginning of the slick, slippery slope," he said. "It’s the first in a series of things that begin to undermine our own town zoning, bylaws, subdivision regulations."
The committee ultimately voted to accept the warrant for the special town meeting with a vote of 4-1 in favor, with Turbin being the vote against.
In other business, Selectmen recommended the majority of warrants for the annual town meeting on May 21 with little discussion, but recommended against voters adopting article 38. The article, appearing from a citizen’s petition, asks voters to appropriate $365,000 to the unincorporated Save the Spruces group to help tenants form a cooperative and purchase the mobile home park.
Stratton Road resident Ken Swiatek, who submitted the petition with Save the Spruces members, said the town has done little to mitigate flooding he said was caused by streams flowing around the park.
Selectwoman Jane Allen said Town Manager Peter Fohlin and Director of Public Works Tim Kaiser attempted to secure grant money several years ago. The grant was denied, she said, because FEMA would not award money to a project in a 100-year floodplain.
To reach Edward Damon, email