Town Meeting - May 10th, 2023
Sixth night of town meeting. Materials are available from https://www.arlingtonma.gov/town-governance/town-meeting/2023-town-meeting-warrant.
(Greg Christiana, Town Moderator) Mr. Christiana says he'll recuse himself from Article 31, since he's a client of a dog daycare service. On May 15th, we'll do article 56 first, in order to give the Ottoson kids the opportunity to present. He reminds town meeting that handouts are to be placed on the table in the back of the room, and not on individual chairs. Mr. Christiana says that town meeting is a vehicle for translating the will of he people. Passion should be translated into deliberative statements, rather than inflammatory remarks.
A student from Arlington High School leads us in singing the national anthem.
Our test vote is a question about the properties of the Pythagorean theorem, c2 = a2 + b2$. The result was 125--26--59.
(Sandy Pooler, Town Manager) Mr. Pooler says that the Health Department is holding a rodent forum on May 18th. It will include information about how to control rodent populations without the use of pesticides.
(John Worden, Precinct 8) Mr. Worden recalls that town meeting authorized a home rule petition that would allow us to run legal advertisements digitally, without having them printed in the local paper. Mr. Worden says he called the local paper to inform them of this, and they didn't seem terribly concerned.
(Steve Moore, Precinct 14 and Tree Committee) Mr. Moore says the Tree Committee has started their adopt-a-tree program for 2023. The town has planted 150 trees since April 1st, and they'll need help keeping them watered. They also have a subsidized tree program.
Article 12 - Three-Year Moratorium on the Installation of Artificial Turf on Town Land
We'll pick up from where we left off on Monday night.
(Aram Hollman, Precinct 6) Mr. Hollman supports the Melofchik substitute motion, and believes that all of the amendments have defects. Many of them would allow the motion to be split into separate votes for the moratorium and study committee, but he wants both.
(Elizabeth Pyle, Precinct 8) Ms. Pyle says her ten year old daughter plays soccer. She'd like more fields, but will be voting in favor of the Melofchik substitute motion. It would be terrible if we installed new fields and then found out they were harmful. She doesn't support any of the amendments, and isn't persuaded that they improve the motion. She doesn't want to have the question split, and doesn't want Mr. Pooler's approach. More study and a moratorium is needed. She says it takes a long time to bring a toxic effects lawsuit. Lots of substances were thought to be safe, but turned out not to be. She feels the substitute motion calls for an impartial study group, and she believes in science. Ms. Pyle says she doesn't want to be on the wrong side of history, and supports the Melofchik motion.
(Linda Hanson, Precinct 9) Ms. Hanson thanks Christa Kelleher for contributing her letter to town meeting. Ms. Hanson coached boys soccer for thirteen years, and she's familiar with the field issues we have in town. The landscape shifted this week, when Belmont Hill withdrew their plans for Poet's Corner. This gives us more time. Ms. Hanson sees the main questions as the best composition for the committee, whether members vote or not, who the committee reports to, and the scope of their study. We need to develop an understanding of these issues. Ms. Hanson is a fan of shared interest bargaining, and believes there are some feelings we share: we value access to recreation, the benefits that children and teens get from sports, and conservation of the environment. The town doesn't have enough fields, and there's limited space for new ones. Arlington should do what seems appropriate for the town. The Arlington High School is adding two turf fields. However, there's been no study of field adequacy or field development. There is a study that's looked at playgrounds, but not one for fields. Ms. Hanson thinks we need a coalition, so we can have a long-term source of funding. It seems okay to study, but that should include looking at the condition of our fields and what's necessary to improve and maintain them.
(Sanjay Newton, Precinct 10) Mr. Newton moves the question.
Motion to terminate debate passes, 156--61--4. So we're going to start voting (and raising points of order).
(Chris Loreti, Point of order) Mr. Loreti says he's confused about how we'll be voting with multiple substitute motions.
(Greg Christiana, Town Moderator) Mr. Christiana says that substitute motions, if adopted, clobber the main motion. We have two to them, and both will work the same way.
Vote on the Vakil amendment fails, 88--135--2. (This amendment would have exempted fields from the moratorium, if testing demonstrated they were PFAS-free, according to certain established standards.)
(Gordon Jamieson, Point of order) Mr. Jamieson asks if the high school fields will be exempt from the moratorium.
(Greg Christiana) Mr. Christiana answers in the affirmative.
(John Gersh, Point of order) Mr. Gersh asks if these are majority or two-thirds votes.
(Greg Christiana) Mr. Christiana says they're majority votes.
Vote on the Greenspon Amendment fails, 96--129--3. (This amendment would have exempted Poet's Corner from the moratorium.)
(Mark Rosenthal, Point of order) Mr. Rosenthal asks if the Schlichtman amendment changes the number of people on the committee.
(Greg Christiana) Mr. Christiana answers in the negative.
(Jordan Weinstein, Point of order) Mr. Weinstein says the Melofchik amendment's moratorium would last up to two years, but could be shorter.
Vote on the Schlichtman amendment passes, 132--96--1. (This amendment requires the study committee to report to town meeting in one year, and imposes the same time limit on the moratorium. It also changes the main motion such that the question could be divided.)
(Gordon Jamieson, Point of order) Mr. Jamieson has a question about what the Pagliasotti amendment changes.
(Greg Christiana) Mr. Christiana summarizes the text of the amendment.
Vote on the Pagliasotti amendment passes, 147--80--1. (This amendment would make all members of the study committee voting members.)
Vote on the first Dennis amendment passes, 118--104--3. (This amendment provides for an odd number of study committee members, and allows the moderator to appoint the committee chair.)
The second Dennis amendment generates lots of points of order.
(Nancy Bloom, Point of order) Ms. Bloom asks if the amendment is talking about best practices for artificial or natural turf fields.
(Doug Heim, Town Counsel) Mr. Heim thinks it's really talking about a cost/benefit analysis. It broadens the scope of what the committee can study.
(Arthur Prokosch, Point of order) Mr. Prokosch asks if the word "artificial" in the parent item takes precedence.
(Doug Heim) Mr. Heim suggests reading the amendment as a broadening of the committee's charge.
(Jordan Weinstein, Point of order) Mr. Weinstein says that "turf" means "artificial turf".
(Greg Christiana) Mr. Christiana says that's a point of information and not a point of order.
(Paul Schlichtman, Point of order) Mr. Schlichtman says the language of the amendment is what we're voting on.
(Greg Christiana) Mr. Christiana says that's not a point of order.
(Jennifer Litowski, Point of order) Ms. Litowski asks if anything would prevent the study committee from looking at best practices, without the second Dennis amendment.
(Doug Heim) Mr. Heim believes that alternatives are contemplated by the substitute motion, but the amendment asks for focus.
(Mark Rosenthal, Point of order) Mr. Rosenthal asks what "downcycling" means.
(Larry Slotnick, Zero Waste Committee) Mr. Slotnick says that recycled materials generally aren't made into similar items; they're made into items of a lower grade. This is what downcycling refers to. Textiles, fiber, and plastic all fall into this category.
(Beth Ann Friedman, Point of order) Ms. Friedman asks what "site-specific design" means when you don't know what the specific site is.
Vote on the second Dennis amendment passes, 126--95--3. (This amendment asks the study committee to look at best practices for material selection and maintenance of turf fields.)
(Josh Lobel, Point of order) Mr. Lobel asks if the Benson-Stamps substitute motion is divisible.
(Greg Christiana) Mr. Christiana says the substitute motion will be divisible, if it is substituted.
(Beth Elliot, Point of order) Ms. Elliot asks a question about substitution and division.
(Greg Christiana) Mr. Christiana explains that substitute motions aren't divisible, but main motions are. So, we'll have two votes on whether to substitute. If that leaves us with a main motion other than no action, then we'll address division.
(Ian Goodsell, Point of order) Mr. Goodsell asks the moderator to explain dividing the question.
(Greg Christiana) Mr. Christiana says that means breaking the main motion into separate pieces, and voting on each of them individually.
(Susan Stamps, Point of order) Ms. Stamps has another question about dividing the question.
(Elaine Crowder, Point of order) Ms. Crowder has a question about the text of the substitute motion, with all of the amendments applied.
Vote on the (amended) Melofchik substitute motion fails, 110--116--1.
Vote on the Benson-Stamps substitute motion passes, 117--110--1.
(Greg Christiana) Greg Christiana says he's going to declare the main motion divided, because debate is closed, and there's no opportunity to take a motion from the floor.
(Robin Bergman, Point of order) Ms. Bergman asks if we should have a vote on whether to divide.
(Greg Christiana) Mr. Christiana reads a section of Town Meeting Time which offers advice on when a moderator can divide a motion. He has the authority to divide the question, and will do so.
To summarize, the Benson-Stamps substitute motion is now the main motion, and we'll divide it into two parts: part one is the text related to the study committee, and part two is the text related to the moratorium.
There are five more points of order (which I didn't write down).
Vote on the question of forming the study committee passes, 143--81--0.
Vote on the question of establishing a moratorium fails, 106--122--1.
In the end, we have a study committee that will report to town meeting next spring, and no moratorium on the installation of artificial turf on town-owned land.
Article 30 - One and Two-Family Usable Open Space
We started discussing Article 30 on night four, but didn't conclude that evening. To recap, this article proposes to eliminate the dimensional requirement for usable open space, for single- and two-family uses. It was proposed by James Fleming and ten registered voters.
(Vince Baudoin, Precinct 1) Mr. Baudoin thanks Mr. Fleming for bringing this article forward. In our bylaws, usable open space is basically a requirement for a 25' rectangle. He recalls there concerns raised last week, about people paving of their yards; these were addressed by (Director of Inspectional Services) Mike Ciampa during debate, and through a memo he provided to town meeting. There were also concerns about commercial properties being converted to single- and two-family homes. These were addressed by (Planning Director) Claire Ricker; the economics are such that it's unlikely that property owners will replace commercial buildings with single- and two-family homes. When we make zoning laws, we're balancing community interests with what people can do with their properties. Mr. Baudoin thinks we should swing in favor of home owners.
(Arthur Prokosch, Precinct 4) Mr. Prokosch says the complexity of the zoning code has a cost for neighbors in East Arlington. Having a new baby on the way can force a family to make a choice between building and moving, and our bylaw adds complexity here. He thinks this article will simplify the zoning code in a desirable way.
(Ben Rudick, Precinct 5) Mr. Rudick moves the question.
Motion to terminate debate passes, 150--59--3.
(Carl Wagner, Point of order) Mr. Wagner asks if Article 30 requires a two-third's vote.
(Greg Christiana) Mr. Christiana answers in the affirmative.
Vote on the Article fails, 121--84--3 (two-thirds vote required).
Article 31 - Industrial District Animal Daycare Use
Article 31 asks town meeting to allow animal daycare in the industrial district. The article was submitted by Kristen Anderson and ten registered voters.
Mr. Christiana is recusing himself from this article, and Adam Auster will serve as moderator.
(Rachel Zsembery, Redevelopment Board Chair) Ms. Zsembery says the article relates to allowing animal daycare as a use in the industrial districts. She tells town meeting that the Redevelopment Board supports the article.
(Kristen Anderson, Precinct 11) Ms. Anderson runs a business in the industrial zone, and she appreciates Town Meeting's support. The COVID pandemic forced us to stay home, and a lot of people adopted pets. Now people are going back to work in the office, and these animals are lonely and sad. There's only one animal daycare facility in Arlington, and it's located in a B district, where the use is allowed. They have a long wait list. Another business found space in the industrial district, but couldn't move there because the use isn't allowed. Another growing business relocated to Lexington. Another is considering Acton, because they can't find space here. She says that Strut 'n Pup employs 20 people and has over 300 clients, and this restriction will push them out of town. The lack of space is pushing businesses out of town. Ms. Anderson says that dog owners take their pets to daycare in other cities, and Arlington needs to better support businesses through zoning.
(Mark Rosenthal, Precinct 14) Mr. Rosenthal's inclination is to support the article. He asks where this restriction came from in the first place.
(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery says the industrial district zoning was adopted by town meeting two years ago, and the use wasn't identified at that time. Animal daycare wasn't contemplated.
(Leba Heigham, Precinct 15) Ms. Heigham moves the question.
Motion to terminate debate passes by voice vote.
Article passes, 210--1--1.
Article 32 - Build Affordable Housing Anywhere
Article 32 proposes that we change the zoning bylaw, so that affordable housing can be built anywhere in town. It was submitted by Thomas Perkins and ten registered voters.
(Rachel Zsembery, Redevelopment Board Chair) Ms. Zsembery says that Article 32 is related to building affordable housing anywhere. The proponent met with the Redevelopment Board once, then asked for the article to be withdrawn.
(Greg Christiana) Mr. Christiana notes that article 32 was originally on the consent agenda with a recommended vote of no action, but it was removed by Angel Mozina. He asks Ms. Mozina if she'd like to speak.
(Angel Mozina, Precinct 15) Ms. Mozina passes.
Recommended vote of no action passes by voice vote.
Article 33 - Endorsement of Parking Benefit District Expenditures
(Christine Deshler, Finance Committee Chair) Ms. Deshler says this article relates to the parking benefits district, where meter money is used to make improvements. We expect $469k in meter revenue next year, and the finance committee recommends a positive vote.
(Sandy Pooler, Town Manager) Mr. Pooler wants to provide a brief progress update on parking meter replacement. It's taking longer than expected, and we hope to have the work done by the end of the month.
Article passes, 207--5--0.
Article 34 - PEG Access Budget
(Christine Deshler, Finance Committee Chair) Ms. Deshler says the town gets money from local cable providers, while are used to support public access cable.
(Note: "PEG" stands for "Public, Educational, and Government")
(John Leone, Precinct 8 and president of ACMi) Mr. Leone says that ACMi gets funding from the franchise fees that appear on our cable bills. This funds PEG programming, and ACMi is the entity that does this in Arlington. The laws changed two years ago, so that towns have to approve the funds each year. Mr. Leone says that PEG funding is going down, because people are dropping their cable subscriptions in favor of streaming platforms. In the future, this reduced funding may force ACMi to make changes.
(Mark Kaepplein, Precinct 9) Mr. Kaepplein asks how much money is in the PEG access budget.
(Christine Deshler) Ms. Deshler says it's $820k.
(Mark Kaepplein) Mr. Kaepplein asks if someone can list the services that ACMi provides.
(John Leone) Mr. Leone says ACMi provides live broadcasts of Select Board meetings and Town Meeting. They train high school students in the use of audio-visual equipment and editing. They provide additional training through college internships. ACMi has two satellite studios: one in town hall, and one in Food Link's building on Summer Street. They record sports games and some student plays. They generally can't broadcast all of the student plays due to copyright restrictions. Finally, anyone can become a member of ACMi for a fee, to learn how to record and edit.
(Christopher Moore, Precinct 14) Mr. Moore moves the question.
Motion to terminate debate passes by voice vote.
Article passes, 209--1--0.
Article 35 - Positions Reclassification
(Christine Deshler, Finance Committee Chair) Ms. Deschler says this article is related to positions reclassification, and it was submitted in conjunction with department heads and human resources. The finance committee is asking for a positive vote on a $5043 appropriation.
(Chris Loreti, Precinct 7) Mr. Loreti asks what the abbreviation mean, and about the purpose of reclassification.
(Sandy Pooler, Town Manager) Mr. Pooler says the abbreviations indicate whether the position is union or non union.
(Chris Loreti) Mr. Loreti asks if higher numbers imply higher salaries.
(Sandy Pooler) Mr. Pooler says that each classification has an associated rate of steps, and that higher levels are paid more.
Article passes, 208--1--0.
Article 36 - Collective Bargaining
(Christine Deshler, Finance Committee Chair) Ms. Deshler says the article asks for a $570k appropriation, which would go to the salary reserve fund for future collective bargaining agreements. It also approves $41k of funding for the latest SEIU agreements.
Article passes, 206--5--0.
Article 39 - Amendments to FY2023 Budgets
(Christine Deshler, Finance Committee Chair) Ms. Deshler informs town meeting that article 39 has a recommended vote of no action.
(Chris Loreti, Precinct 7) Mr. Loreti asks if this article was on the consent agenda.
Various town meeting members remind Mr. Loreti that he removed the finance committee articles from the consent agenda during the first night of town meeting.
The no action recommendation is adopted by voice vote.
Article 40 - Rescind Borrowing Authorizations from Prior Years
(Christine Deshler, Finance Committee Chair) Ms. Deshler says this article will rescind $300k of an earlier appropriation for water meter replacement. That amount was unspent.
(Chris Loreti) Mr. Loreti asks if meter data will be made available to residents.
(Sandy Pooler) Mr. Pooler says the rescission will not affect program implementation.
Article passes, 202--1--0.
Ms. Deschler moves reconsideration on the financial articles that we passed tonight.
Town meeting adjourns for the evening.