The Falmouth Select Board has set Monday, June 28, at 6 PM as the date and time for Special Town Meeting on the Falmouth High School campus.
The warrant is split and the time-sensitive fiscal articles needed to keep services continuing without disruption will still be deliberated at Annual Town Meeting on Monday, April 12, while the rest, including petitioner articles, will be placed on the Special Town Meeting warrant.
The June date will allow for in-person public discussion of articles—including the two petitioner articles that would allow a large-scale solar farm to be built on the Cape Cod Country Club property—that are expected to elicit debate.
“We have been hearing from Town Meeting members and members of the public on certain articles that we know will foster debate, and that can be difficult on Zoom,” chairperson Megan E. English Braga said at Monday's select board meeting, noting some residents are not as accustomed to using online meeting programs, and the sometimes-spotty internet connections in Falmouth.
Assistant Town Manager Peter Johnson-Staub said the two solar articles will not be allowed under the blanket vote.
“They will be automatic holds, and that speaks to the whole reason we created these two warrants, to allow for robust discussion on controversial articles,” he said.
Mr. Johnson-Staub said he heard from Town Moderator David T. Vieria, who said he felt it should be decided much closer to the date whether the meeting will occur inside or on the lawn, based on COVID-19 levels and weather.
“We have lights so we could potentially go late into the evening, but there will also be mosquitos, so probably not ideal to be out there late. Perhaps we should talk about an exact cutoff time,” he said.
“If we are worried about mosquitos, then we are talking about wrapping up by 8 or 8:30 PM," select board member Douglas H. Jones said.
“That only gives up a few hours,” he added.
Ms. English Braga confirmed the high school is available the next evening, should there be a need to continue.
Board member Douglas C. Brown suggested starting earlier, but Ms. English Braga said that would create the issue of interfering with people’s work schedules.
Board member Nancy Taylor suggested considering holding Town Meeting on a Saturday, like other towns in the commonwealth do.
Ms. English Braga said it was considered, but noted Mr. Vieira is not available on the one Saturday between the time the high school closes for the year and the beginning of July. The board has previously said it wanted Special Town Meeting concluded before July.