Board of Selectmen - Feb 26th, 2018
The board requested my attendance at tonight's meeting, re: appointment to the Surveillance Study Committee. I and the other appointees had the opportunity to say a few words, and were confirmed by the board. There were a number of interesting items on the agenda, so I stayed for the evening and took notes.
White Ribbon Day. White Ribbon Day is a project of the Jane Doe initiative, which encourages men to speak out against gender-based violence. The Board issued a proclamation in support of White Ribbon Day.
Town Policies on Non-Discrimination and Sexual Harassment. Human Resources director Caryn Malloy spoke about the town's policies regarding non-discrimination and sexual harassment. The town values a professional and respectful workplace environment. The town distributes copies of their harassment and non-discrimination policies to new employees, and conducts training sessions. The #MeToo movement has brought these issues to the forefront, but the town has been working on them for years.
Appointments. Next, there are appointments to the Rainbow Commission and Surveillance Study Group. The Rainbow Commission was formed by the 2017 annual town meeting. The Surveillance Study group is sponsored by the selectmen, and came out of 2017's warrant article hearings.
Community Development Block Grants. Julie Wayland gave a brief mid-year report on the town's community development block grants, and introduced applicants for 2018-2019. There are 22 applications, for a total of $1.5m in funding. A number of applicants are here to talk about their applications.
Council on Aging. They request $4,000 to fund adult day health services; funding for transportation services; and funding for a volunteer and transportation coordinator. The coordinator is a parttime position. Last year, the Council provided between 8,000-9,000 one way rides, as part of its transportation services.
Operation Success. Operation Success is in its 19th year of serving kids in Menotomy manor. They provide tutoring services to about 25 kids, in a program that runs 4 nights/week, from September to June. They request $6,000.
Housing Corporation of Arlington. The HCA asks for funds for capital improvements and rehabilitation of affordable housing units.
Fidelity House. Fidelity House provides a day camp for kids, mostly from Menotomy Manor. They request $16,000 for this program, and $5k for Jobs, Jobs, Jobs, which is a jobs program for high school seniors. They also do work in conjunction with the Arlington Boys and Girls Club.
Food Link. Food Link operates seven days a week. They collect, sort, and distribute food. About 330,000 pounds of food to 25,000 people. The group has 170 volunteers and 2 paid staff. Their request is for a new operating facility; they'd like support in finding and moving in to a new location. They're looking for about 2,000 square feet, with 300 square feet of cold storage.
Arlington Boys and Girls Club. They request $5,000 for the Jobs, Jobs, Jobs program.
The towns Director of Recreation (I think) requests funding for scholarship programs.
The board votes to refer applications to the CDBG committee, who will make concrete funding recommendations to the board.
Warrant Article Hearings. The selectmen hold hearings on eight warrant articles.
Article 6: Bylaw Amendment/Capital Planning Committee. This article would permit the capital planning committee to increase the number of members from four to six. It would also stagger the terms of committee members. Clarissa Rowe believes this is an excellent idea. Board votes favorable action.
Article 7: Bylaw Amendment/Town Meeting Warrant Delivery. Currently, it costs the town $5,000 to mail warrants for a regular town meeting and $2,000 to mail warrants for special town meetings. John Leone proposes distributing the warrant electronically, but members of the public could still pick up paper copies at town hall, the library, etc. The town meeting procedures committee will discuss this proposal at an upcoming meeting, and the article is not ready for a final vote.
Doug Heim notes that the state Attorney General provides three mechanisms for towns to distribute warrants. Towns only have to use one mechanism, but Arlington uses all three.
Diane Mahon has some reservations. She recalls occasions where residents have contacted her after reading the warrant that came in the mail, or in the local paper.
There's discussion as to whether the warrant is the best way to notify the public about town meeting, or if another form of document would be better.
Article tabled until a future date.
Article 11: Bylaw Amendment/Vacant Store Front Registry. The article would change the registration requirement from 21 days of vacancy to 90 days of vacancy. It would also clarify when the registration fee is due, and when a wavier can be applied for.
Why change the registration from 21 days of vacancy to 90 days? 21 days is not much time to find a commercial tenant; property owners often need longer than that. The shorter period has caused churn in the registration process.
Board votes favorable action.
Article 13: Bylaw Amendment/Arlington Commission on Arts & Culture. The town is implementing a cultural plan. This article would consolidate the arts organizations; there'd be one core committee and a set of sub-committees. It would also allow flexibility with respect to the establishment of sub-committees.
The article would rename the Commission on Arts and Culture, along with adding new responsibilities and duties.
Ted Paluzzo (public commenter) thinks this is a great idea. Arlington has 64 places on the National Historic Registry; more than Lexington or Concord. He encourages committees to be put together, and the town to keep them funded.
Dan Dunn asks the proponent if she feels like there's been consensus in this process. The proponent says there's consensus about the consolidation, and there's almost consensus on the new structure.
Article 14: Bylaw Amendment/Tree Preservation and Protection. This article attempts to bring bylaw fees in line with administration costs, and to make the fee structure consistent with laws for public shade trees. Only the fee structure is changing. The article would allow the Board of Selectmen to update fees on an annual basis.
Joe Curro likes the idea of separating the fee structure from the Bylaw.
Clarissa Rowe believes the selectmen will be able to establish fees. She also likes the idea of making fees dependent on tree size.
Dan Dunn supports the bylaw amendment, along with the idea of having the Selectmen set fees. He suggests that the Board's report to town meeting should include the rates.
Board votes favorable action.
Article 15: Bylaw Amendment/Noise Abatement. This article was proposed by ten registered voters. The proponent did not offer specific language at this point. Instead, she explained her motivation for proposing the bylaw: she'd like the town to have a way of dealing with crazy loud parties, especially ones having live music all day. There's a house in her neighborhood that holds these parties with some frequency, starting at 9:00 in the morning until 9:00 at night. The proponent says that she's tried the police, and the police can't do anything about the noise. The proponent also notes that the Health and Human Services department (who normally enforces the town's noise bylaws) isn't available on weekends.
I spoke to the board on this article. When I moved to Arlington, the noise bylaw prohibited sounds over 85 dB, which is to say, the bylaw is sufficient to prevent permanent hearing loss. It's good that we have this, but it's a low bar. Next, we added restrictions around the use of leaf blowers, and then restrictions on residential construction. I'd like to see noise regulations that are more comprehensive, and less patchwork. For example, residential, business, and industrial districts deserve different noise limits. I also wished for clarity on the measurement procedure, something along the lines of Boston's L10 measurement scheme. I talked about my neighborhood's issues with noise pollution from Dilboy Stadium noise pollution. One of our Dilboy outcomes was for Somerville to equip police officers with decibel meters, along with training on how to use them. I would prefer an allocation to bring in outside expertise to write a better, more comprehensive set of noise regulations.
Dan Dunn was lukewarm to the idea of rewriting the noise bylaw. He felt the problem was fairly specific, and could be addressed in a specific manner. Mr. Dunn also expressed dissatisfaction with the "sorry, we can't help you right now; come back during regular business hours" response that the proponent had received.
Adam Chapdelaine said he would ask the police department for records on noise complaints.
Motion tabled until a future meeting.
Article 16: Bylaw Amendment/Time of Town Meeting Sessions. This article would change the start time of town meeting from 8:00pm to 7:00pm.
John Leone suggests that the selectmen opt not to report on this motion, and let the Town Meeting Procedures Committee provide the recommended action. The selectmen agree, noting that the town's executive branch should not hold sway over how the legislative branch conducts its business.
The board votes to refer the article to the Town Meeting Procedures Committee.
Article 21: Vote/Vision 2020. This article would change the name and purpose of the Vision 2020 committee. The Vision 2020 committee was formed (and named) in 1992; the year 2020 is soon approaching, and a new name seems in order. The article proposes "Envision Arlington" as a new name. The committee would like to think in terms of aspirations and vision statements, rather than goals. The article would also divide the committee into voting members and an advisory board. Board votes favorable action.