Town voters on Tuesday will have the chance to preserve 9 more acres of woodland, and place dozens of additional plots into conservation protection. But it might not happen if 150 registered voters don’t show up to the Special Town Meeting.
150 voters. That’s less than 1% of all the town’s voters. It’s the typical volume of traffic through a Dunkin’ Donuts drive through during the morning rush hour. It’s also the minimum quorum required to start a Town Meeting in Abington. And town officials are worried that threshold won’t be reached when Tuesday at 7 p.m. rolls around, meaning no action can be taken.
Selectmen could have reduced the quorum under a soon-to-expire, pandemic-era state law, but, in a split vote, chose not to. So the rush is on to recruit voters to attend the meeting, which is expected to last about an hour inside the Middle/HIgh School Auditorium.
Here’s a summary of what’s up for discussion Tuesday night:
Article 1 – Building Department Budget
Town Manager Scott Lambiase is asking to increase the Building Department’s budget by $58,000. Of that, $35,000 will go toward paying the new Building Commissioner, as well as a part-time building inspector. The commissioner’s chair had been empty for a year before Lambiase hired Chris Carmichael this summer. Lambiase told the Finance Committee that the market rate for qualified building commissioners had increased since the previous guy left. In addition, the department is looking for $23,000 to cover the costs of new file management software, which will allow residents and property owners to apply for permits online. Department staff is currently scanning every office file so they can be reviewed digitally as part of this software advancement. “They have a much more customer service-oriented atmosphere down there now,” Lambiase told Moderator Shawn Reilly during a recent interview.
Money for the increased spending will come from the town’s pool of Unrestricted General Government Aid from the state, which came in higher than expected.
Funding Source: Additional state aid
Article 2 – Cable Access Fund Appropriation Revision
Abington Community Access & Media is funded through surcharges on cable bills. That money however flows from the cable companies to the town, who then gives it to the non-profit organization. At the Annual Town Meeting this past spring, the town approved giving ACAM $373,900 for its operating budget. The town’s new accountant said the vote should have specified that the money consisted of $282,500 in new revenues from the cable companies and $91,400 in retained earnings (money from a previous year the organization hadn’t spent). This article makes that clarification.
Cost: None. Technical change; no new spending is being added.
Funding Source: n/a
Article 3 – Account consolidation
Lambiase said this is another request from the Town Accountant. Currently, department budgets may have common line items for expenses like fuel, office supplies, or postage. These separate line items will be consolidated into one main line item for easier oversight. Spending on common expenses will still be tracked by department, Lambiase said. There is no increase in spending proposed.
Cost: None. Technical change; no spending being added
Funding Source: n/a
Article 4 – Sewer Force Main
The town initially thought that about $232,500 in engineering costs for the recently completed sewer main replacement project couldn’t be included in project borrowing. Since the warrant was printed, they found out the expenses could be included. So this item will be “passed over” or skipped.
Funding Source: n/a
Article 5 – CPA Land Purchase – Orchard Lane
Town Meeting is being asked to approve $230,000 to buy a 9-acre parcel of land off Orchard Lane that abuts a couple larger pieces of town-owned property. The land was purchased a couple years back by Greg and Chris O’Neill, with the intent of building a couple homes. They eventually scrapped the plan after running into difficulties securing environmental permits. An out-of-town developer was interested in buying the land, according to Chris O’Neill, but the developer’s plans were vague, and they wanted to be good neighbors. “I didn’t know what he was going to do up there,” O’Neill said. “It didn’t feel right selling to a developer.”
So with a push from local environmental activist Dan Brielman, the O’Neills asked the town if it would be interested in purchasing the land instead. Yes, was the quick answer from the town. The heavily-wooded parcel is adjacent to a 25-acre town-owned lot that runs out to Rockland Street, and connects with town-owned land behind Town Hall and the Town Library. Lambiase said it will make a nice addition to the town’s existing land holdings in the area, which is being eyed for hiking trails and possibly a town forest.
Funding Source: Community Preservation Act funds
Article 6 – Pay an Old Bill
GovConnection submitted a $400 bill after the FY’22 books closed. Abington still has to pay it. This will allow the town to do so.
Funding Source: General Fund
Article 7 – Transfer Land To Conservation
The town owns dozens and dozens of parcels of land scattered around town, many of which were taken when the owners stopped paying property taxes decades ago. Last year, the town thought about auctioning off a number of those parcels, which got the attention of a vocal faction of residents who instead wanted the town to officially preserve the land permanently. This article will place more than 70 lots into the care of the Conservation Commission, effectively preventing them from being sold or developed in the future. The parcels include 11 acres off Chestnut Street, 25 acres of Rockland Street, and dozens of lots off Diane Circle, Jeremiah Sullivan Way, and Oakland Street that were subdivided but never actually built because of wetland problems.
Funding Source: n/a
Article 8 – Union Contracts
The town is in the process of settling new contracts with a number of public employee unions. Lambiase believes only the union representing the town’s public works department employees will be in place for the Special Town Meeting. That contract features a 3% annual increase this year and the next two years, as well as other provisions. Town Meeting voters will be asked to approve $35,000 in additional spending for the DPW to cover the increased salary costs.
Funding Source: General fund
Article 9 – Plastic bag ban
Town Meeting back in 2019 approved a ban on single-use plastic bags. The Health Department is now asking to revisit that decision. Most retailers in Abington have replaced their flimsy bags with paper bags or heavier-duty plastic bags – both of which weigh more and add cost to the town’s trash costs, and have a larger environmental impact to manufacture. The Health Department is asking Town Meeting to reconsider its previous vote.
Funding Source: n/a
Here’s a list of Municipal meetings links for September 19 – 22, along with a preview of the Abington Special Town Meeting warrant featuring Town Moderator Shawn Reilly and Town Manager Scott Lambiase and a new episode of The Buzz; Green Wave Sports.
These programs were proudly produced by the staff at Abington Community Access & Media Inc.
Board of Health (9/19)
Conservation Commission (9/21)
Charter Review Committee (9/22)
Preview of Abington’s Special Town Meeting;
The Buzz; Green Wave Sports, Season 2 – Episode 1;
GREEN WAVE ATHLETICS
Compiled by Charlotte Hernandez
Wednesday, Sept 28 – @ Middleborough 4:00pm
Wednesday, Sept 28 – Norwell @ Scituate Country Club 3:30pm
Wednesday, Sept 28 – Cohasset @ Strawberry Valley 3:30pm (JV)
Thursday, Sept 29 – East Bridgewater @ Ridder Country Club 3:30pm
Friday, Sept 30 – MIddleborough @ Strawberry Valley 3:30pm
Thursday, Sept 29 – @ Quincy 7:00pm
Saturday, Oct 1 – vs Quincy 11:00am (Freshman)
Wednesday, Sept 28 – vs Cohasset 4:00pm
Wednesday, Sept 28 – vs Cohasset 4:00pm (JV)
Friday, Sept 30 – vs Hull 4:00pm
Wednesday, Sept 28 – @ Cohasset 4:00pm
Wednesday, Sept 28 – @ Cohasset 4:00pm (JV)
Friday, Sept 30 – @ Hull 4:00pm (JV)
Friday, Sept 30 – @ Hull 5:30pm
Tuesday, Sept 27 – @ South Shore Christian 3:30pm (JV)
Tuesday, Sept 27 – @ South Shore Christian 4:45pm
Thursday, Sept 29 – vs Carver 4:30pm (JV)
Thursday, Sept 29 – vs Carver 4:30pm (Freshman)
Thursday, Sept 29 – vs Carver 5:45pm
(FOR THE MOST UPDATED GAMES AND SCORES, PLEASE CHECK ARBITER LIVE SPORTS
Finance Committee, 6 p.m., High School, Room TBD. Agenda includes discussing any changes to Special Town Meeting articles.
Conservation Commission, 6 p.m., High School, Room 1207. Agenda includes a discussion on FY24 projects.
Board of Health, 6 p.m., High School. Sole agenda item is a discussion and possible vote on the proposed plastic bag ban.
Board of Selectmen, 6:30 p.m., High School. Agenda includes reviewing Finance Committee recommendations, and a request from the Abington Lions Club for a one-day liquor license for October 15.
School Committee, 7 p.m., High School Library. Agenda includes reports from the Superintendent, director of student services, school principals, and director of curriculum, instruction, and assessment.
Zoning Board of Appeals, 7 p.m., Town Hall. Sole agenda item is the proposed 40B on Summer Street