Scituate Special Town Meeting lasted just over two hours with most of the 12 warrant articles passing with little or no discussion.
Even Article 12, which many felt could have been cause for lengthy debate, passed unanimously without question.
This article allows the town to amend the general bylaws by adding a new section prohibiting the consumption of marijuana and other tetrahydrocannainol (THC) substances in public places, mirroring the town bylaw prohibiting the public consumption of alcohol. Public places are defined as those owned, maintained, or under the control of the town including, but not limited to, streets, sidewalks, public ways, footways, passageways, stairs, bridges, parks, playgrounds, recreation areas, boat landings, public buildings, schoolhouses, school grounds, cemeteries, parking lots, beaches and sand spits.
Violations will be punished by a fine of $300.
“I guess we’re going out on a high here,” Town Moderator Rich Bowen joked as the article was introduced.
Article 6, which asked voters to appropriate funds for four items based on the recommendations of the Community Preservation Committee (CPC), generated the most discussion. This article
The four items included $197,814.50 from Community Housing for window replacement at Central Park Housing; $79,850.50 from unreserved funds for window replacement at Central Park Housing; $528,500 from Open Space for parking and access to CPC acquired land; and $38,490 from Open Space for mapping, trails and signage for CPC and town conservation land.
Item 3, which sought funding for access roads and parking areas, raised the most concern. The four CPC land acquisitions the item referenced included the Bates Lane Complex - several acres on Bates Land off of Clapp Road; the Higgins-McAllister Property – approximately 31 acres on Holly Crest Road, off Booth Hill Road; the Damon Memorial Property – approximately 37.7 acres located on Clapp Road; and the Crosbie Property- approximately 41 acres located on Clapp Road.
One resident inquired if alternative access to the Crosbie property had been considered.
Disturbing wetlands was also brought up.
“Apparently this is the only way to get into Appleton Field,” Selectman John Danehey, who introduced the article. “That’s the reason why it’s costly.”
Questions were raised about the right of way to the Appleton property.
Frank Snow, chairman of the conservation commission, explained when the Crosby property was aquired the town agreed to create a new way to get to the Appleton property that did not run so closely to a neighbor’s home.
Snow also said the conservation commission was sensitive to wetlands, and in response to a question on maintaining the land, said volunteers would work on the trails.
Other residents questioned the timeliness of the article, noting that articles dealing with CPC funds are often addressed at annual Town Meeting in the spring, which usually draws a larger voting audience.
“Traditionally, we have done it at annual Town Meeting but this is one way to break up some of the workload rather than trying to bring it all up at once,” Danehey said.
Bowen asked for votes to be taken on the items individually.
All items passed (items one and three by majority vote; two and four unanimously).
Article 11, which was indefinitely postponed, addressed the requirement of the town by the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office to designate town-own land for a conservation restriction to replace land used to build the public safety complex. Presently, the acting town administrator is reviewing several potential land parcels to comply with the Attorney General's requirement.
Indefinitely postponing the article passed by majority vote.
The majority of the warrant articles were "housekeeping" articles, which passed unanimously or by the required two-thirds vote.
This special Town Meeting was unique in that it was held, for the first time, in the new Center for the Performing Arts at Scituate High School.
There were some other "firsts" for the night as well. It was the first special Town Meeting for Karen Canfield as a member of the board of selectmen, and the first special Town Meeting for new Superintendent of Schools Ron Griffin.
Jim Boudreau, who will start in January as Scituate’s new town administrator, was introduced to the community by Selectmen Chairman Maura Curran at the start of the meeting.
“Thank you for coming out,” Selectman Tony Vegnani said to those in attendance. “Without you guys, town government just does not work.”
Follow Ruth Thompson on Twitter @scituateruth.