When Falmouth Town Meeting convenes next week, members will discuss wind turbine disposition, town charter changes and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Town Meeting begins Tuesday, November 12, at 7 PM at the Lawrence School auditorium. A total of 36 warrant articles will go before the body, starting with reports from town committees and officers.
The town’s wind turbines will once again go before Town Meeting. Town Manager Julian M. Suso will ask Town Meeting to transfer $2.5 million to begin the disposition of Falmouth’s two Vestas 1.65-megawatt, V-82 wind turbines with 80-meter-tall towers from the wastewater treatment plant site on Blacksmith Shop Road.
This would include the dismantling and dropping of the turbines. It would not fund their removal or relocation. The $2.5 million price tag is based on an estimate provided by consultant Weston & Sampson.
Mr. Suso is also seeking $50,000 to allow the town to acquire an option to purchase a parcel of land for the construction of a new northwest fire station. A real estate option is a contract between a buyer and seller that offers the buyer the exclusive option to buy the property at a fixed price during a set period of time. The buyer pays a premium for this option.
The site of this station has not been selected; selectmen will create a nine-member citizens advisory committee to examine potential locations.
The town is also looking to lease or purchase land at 84 Main Street and at the intersection of Worcester Court and Spring Bars Road for use as municipal parking. Although the warrant lists eminent domain as an option, Mr. Suso said there is no intention of taking either parcel via eminent domain.
Several petition articles will go before Town Meeting.
Sandra L. Faiman-Silva of Davis Road will ask Town Meeting to adopt a non-binding resolution to protect the civil rights and safety of all Falmouth residents and visitors by affirming the Falmouth Police Department’s policies as outlined in the department’s “Mission, Core Values and Vision Statement” and “A Message from the Police Chief Regarding the DHS-ICE Secure Communities Program.”
The resolution, which is non-binding and in line with current practice in Falmouth, would forbid town officials from asking residents and visitors about their immigration status, enforcing immigration matters based on race, ethnicity, citizenship, nationality, religion, age, immigration status or political values, or any other arbitrary characteristic and from violating the civil liberties and human rights of all residents and visitors on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual and gender identity, national origin, citizens and immigration status, or any other arbitrary characteristic.
In another item of business C. Grant Walker of Philadelphia Street, East Falmouth, is bringing the Stretch Energy Code before Town Meeting for a third time. The adoption of the Massachusetts Board of Building Regulations and Standards Stretch Code was previously rejected by Town Meeting in 2011 and 2018.
If adopted, the Stretch Code would replace the base building code for new developments in Falmouth.
A plastic bottle ban will also go before the body.
Falmouth For Stable Practices is looking to ban “the purchase by the Town of Falmouth of either water or any other beverage in single-use plastic bottles of any size.” The bylaw would also prohibit the sale of any beverage in single-use plastic containers on town property.
The ban would not prohibit local businesses from selling water bottles, nor would it prohibit town departments from purchasing and distributing bottled water during public health or safety operations.
Nathan A. Holcomb of Sippewissett Road, Falmouth, will ask Town Meeting to amend the Wetlands Protection bylaw to exempt isolated freshwater wetlands (any freshwater wetland not bordering a water body) smaller than 10,000 square feet from the act.
Falmouth veterans organizations have also put forth an article asking Town Meeting to lease the John DeMello Senior Center at 300 Dillingham Avenue to the Falmouth Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #2569 for $1 per year for five years. The proposal is to use the building as a veterans service center.
The new senior center, which is under construction on Main Street next to the Gus Canty Community Center, will also go before Town Meeting. The town is seeking $100,000 to cover increased staffing needs at the new, larger senior center.
At the request of the Falmouth Housing Trust, selectmen are asking Town Meeting to authorize the sale of a parcel at 50 Twin Oaks Drive. The housing trust wants to renovate and convert an abandoned house on the parcel into an affordable home. The house is on an 88-acre parcel purchased by the town in 1987 for water resource protection and other municipal purposes.
Town Meeting is also asked to fund $11,134,138 in capital and non-capital improvements. This includes $2 million to repaint the three-million-gallon water tank at Falmouth Technology Park, $890,000 in road maintenance and construction, $2.36 million in coastal erosion projects at Menauhant Beach and Chapoquoit Road, $250,000 in athletic field renovations and $76,000 to purchase a charging station and two electric vehicles from the conservation and building departments.
Eleven proposed charter changes will go before the body. These changes including changing the name of the Falmouth Board of Selectmen to the gender-neutral “select board,” exempt the Board of Assessors from term limits, add the Finance Committee to the charter, and remove the recreation, waterways, beach and human services committees from the list of committees in the charter.
Charter review committee chairman Peter L. Clark said he does not intend to hold the 11 charter changes, instead opting to see if they will pass on the blanket vote. He expects some changes will be held by Town Meeting members for discussion.
“We know that the finance committee wants to amend part of Article 26 to match state law, and the position of the charter review committee is we are trying to keep the charter as simple and streamlined as possible,” Mr. Clark said. “Repeating the information in state law or the bylaw shouldn’t be necessary.”
Last month, finance committee members voted to recommend amending the proposed charter change by noting the finance committee “shall consider any or all municipal questions” when making recommendations to Town Meeting.
Mr. Clark said the proposal to remove four committees from the charter would likely prompt debate.
“The place we know there will be resistance, and there has been voted resistance from the recreation committee, relates to Article 32,” he said. “The concern there is if committee names are removed from the charter, it undermines those committee.”
On October 28, the board of selectmen voted to affirm that the recreation, waterways, beach and human services committees will continue their work, regardless of proposed changes to the town charter.
To assist Town Meeting members with understanding the proposed changes, a copy of the current charter was sent to all members. The committee intends on distributing slides showing the proposed additions and deletions. Mr. Clark, who is also a Precinct 1 Town Meeting member, will be in attendance to provide general explanations and answer questions, if needed.
Five additional charter changes may go before Town Meeting next year. The charter review committee recommended 24 changes to the board of selectmen. In addition to those going before Town Meeting, the board rejected three proposed changes and deferred five for further discussion at a later date.
Charter changes approved by Town Meeting will require approval at the ballot box as well. The changes will go before Falmouth voters in May 2020.
Town Meeting will also vote on two community preservation committee articles, including a $575,000 payment into the land bank debt reserve account. This accounts will cover the cost of conservation land acquisition debt service payments beyond 2020. This date was selected as the town could opt out of the Community Preservation Act in 2020.
The proposed payment would bring the fund to $4,575,000, enough to pay for Falmouth’s land bank debt service from 2021 to 2035.
The CPC also requested appropriated $425,000 into the Falmouth Affordable Housing Fund. This fund is used to help subsidize the development of additional affordable housing units in town.
Three proposed zoning changes will go before Town Meeting. At the request of the planning board, Town Meeting is asked to add a height restriction of 35 feet for buildings in the business redevelopment zone.
Jay Zalava of Wheelhouse Circle asks Town Meeting to amend the Official Zoning Map by adding a large-scale ground-mounted solar overlay district along Nathan Ellis Highway at the Cape Cod Fairgrounds.
A petition from Michael DiGiano, executive director of the EDIC, asks Town Meeting to rezone 64 Technology Park Drive from “public use” to “Light Industrial C.” The change would allow the lot to be used as a solar farm. This article, recommended for indefinite postponement by the planning board, will be discussed further by the Economic Development and Industrial Corporation at its Tuesday, November 12, meeting.
Town Meeting will also be asked to authorize the town’s various revolving funds, fund the health insurance stabilization fund, appropriate money for government access programming, reduce the fiscal 2020 excluded debt budget, authorize an easement on Locustfield Road to Lawrence Lynch Realty Corp., and remove a restriction that prevents the board of selectmen from denying a permit or license to delinquent taxpayers unless they have been delinquent for at least one year.