Saturday, December 7, 2019

Joint BESE/BHE Meeting in December

Note: this meeting was postponed due to an impending weather event.

The Joint Meeting with the Boards of Elementary and Secondary Education and Higher Education on Tuesday, December 17* is scheduled for 9:30-11:30 AM. Agenda has not yet been posted, but is expected to include discussion of early college programs, teacher diversity initiatives, and "evidence-based policy-making" (quotations mine).

BESE regular meeting is scheduled to follow from 12:00-3:00 PM. Do look for the agenda (which is not yet posted) and any backup docs once they are posted (sometimes on Tuesday, often on Wednesday, definitely by Thursday before a Tuesday meeting) and read them for context and to learn more about any agenda items of particular interest.
  • The regular meeting agenda is expected to kick off with discussion of Competency Determination (CD) and includes: 
    • a.) preliminary results from a Brown University Study and 
    • b.) a vote to extend the interim CD passing standard for one additional year to the class of 2023.
  • The second item is another regulatory matter on a topic discussed recently at a meeting of the Board's Educator Diversification Committee^. During that meeting we heard about initiatives to increase educator diversity in Massachusetts, including recruitment/pipeline development^^; hiring, retention, and culturally responsive workforce; and educator licensure policy, including waivers and teacher licensure assessments. This item is an initial discussion with the whole Board about a proposal to amend the Ed Licensure Regs (603 CMR 7.00) in order to provide a pathway to pilot some alternatives to the MTEL (Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure). The need for this flexibility (the proposed pilot period would run through June 30, 2023) is based on data and research the Board has been hearing about over the past year: 40% of MA public school students are students of color, while only 8% of teachers are of color and if students of color have even one teacher who looks like them in their elementary school experience, improved high school completion and life outcomes result. We'll discuss the proposal, then vote to solicit public comment for amending the regulations.
  • Next, we'll get an update on the Student Opportunity Act, signed into law on November 26. Among the specifics we'll hear about are new responsibilities for the Commissioner/DESE (ushered in as a result) and anticipated next steps.
  • Closing out the meeting will be: 
    • a.) Discussion and Vote to accept the surrender of the charter for City on a Hill Charter Public School New Bedford and 
    • b.) Update and Discussion of City on a Hill Charter Public Schools located in Dudley Square and Circuit Street in Boston.
The meeting will be held at:
Mount Wachusett Community College
Main Building, First Floor, South Cafe
444 Green Street
Gardner MA 01440
Direction and maps may be found HERE.
* The Board will not meet Monday, December 16.
^ The Committee is Chaired by Board Member Fernandez and includes Members Doherty, Rouhanifard, Stewart, and Chair Craven (ex-officio). Chair Fernandez and Senior Associate Commissioner Ventura Rodriguez worked together to prepare the Committee's meeting agenda/presentations.
^^ You'll note some agenda overlap on this issue with the two Boards; DESE is partnering with DHE on initiatives to increase educator diversity.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Special Town Meeting 2019

East Lexington, November 2016

We're in Battin Hall of Cary Memorial Building. There's a lot to cover, so Town Meeting Members (TMMs) have been asked to hold tomorrow night, too, just in case a second session is needed.

Deputy Moderator Barry Orenstein is Moderator of the Meeting.

This is a Special Town Meeting (STM), in accordance with the Acts of 1929, Chapter 215, §8 and there are a total of nine Articles to be acted upon by the elected members of Town Meeting (TM): three Articles are budget adjustments, three others are zoning amendments, and two are capital improvements. Article 1 remains open to receive the reports of any Town Board, Officer, or Committees at any time.
The list of Articles (Warrant) is HERE.
Articles 5 & 7 have been designated "Date Certain", so they will go first.
We expect to hear reports of the Special Permit Residential District Committee, and of the ad hoc Crematory Study Committee, as well.

Call to Order at 7:30 PM and we are in session.

Updating as we go.

A few housekeeping notes from Town Moderator (TMod)

ARTICLE 1: Reports of Town Boards, Officers, Committees
This Article remains open throughout STM. Reports may be presented at any session by Town Boards, Officers, or Committees.

ARTICLE 5: Amend Zoning Bylaw from CD-1 District to CSX District — 7 Hartwell Avenue (Owner Petition)
This Article requests an amendment to the Zoning Bylaw and Map in order to allow additional uses at the site.

Kristine Hung with the presentation (HERE)

Bob Creech with Planning Board's Report HERE is received and placed on file
Chamber of Commerce: SUPPORTS

Zoning changes require a TWO-THIRDS MAJORITY VOTE

Vote taken by ELECTRONIC DEVICE (EDev)
YES: 149
NO: 1

ARTICLE 7: Amend Zoning Bylaw and Map — 186 Bedford Street (Owner Petition)
To see if the Town will vote to amend Chapter 135, the Zoning Bylaw, of the Code of the Town of Lexington, and the Zoning Map of the Town of Lexington, by changing the zoning district designation of Lot 68 of Assessor's Map 64 located at 186 Bedford Street from the current RS Zoning District (Single Family Dwelling District) to a Planned Development District (mixed-use, commercial & residential) or to act in any other manner relative thereto.

The Applicant, 186 Bedford Street, LLC, proposes to renovate the main building and barn, to partially demolish the wing that was built in 1969, and to construct a 2.5-story addition with related site improvements.

This Article was referred back to the Planning Board at 2019 Annual Town Meeting. The pertinent documents about this project (since April), including PSDUP revision/s, related MOUs, agreements, have been posted to PB's page of the Town's website HERE.

PB's Report is HERE
Article 7 MOU is HERE
Applicant's Presentation is HERE

SB: 5-0 in SUPPORT
PB: 5-0 in SUPPORT
Housing Partnership Board: in SUPPORT
Housing Assistance Board: in SUPPORT
Chamber of Commerce: in SUPPORT
Commission on Disability: in SUPPORT
Economic Development Advisory Committee: in SUPPORT

Questions and Comments:
NOmic TMM/P8: Remains opposed to this project. Not opposed to affordable housing or mixed-use.
YESmic TMM/P8: Good arguments on the other side, but there are trade-offs worth supporting this project that outweigh any downside.
TMM with Question: How many units would be counted as affordable?
Town Mgr James Malloy: 13
TMM/P8: We were told at the first meeting at Knights of Columbus that Mr. Grant understood the Selectmen had their support. Is it true that Selectmen can have that weight before hearing from resident?
Select Board chair Lucente: Short answer is no. Following discussion, support for the concept. We don't always "rubber stamp".
Citizen's mic: is a direct abutter to this project, is opposed to the negative impact.
Citizen mic: citing small size of lot, urges TMMs to oppose the project.
TMM: How does the rental rates work for the four affordable units?
Mr. Grant: Six paragraphs in the MOU, submitted as part of the site plan review, State Dept. of Housing
YESmic TMM/P9: particular site ideal for mixed-use developments
TMM/P3: What's going to happen to the current Ciampa property?
Mr. Grant: Dictated by CN zoning
Citizen mic: Massing is too large, buffer zone too small.
YESmic TMM/P4: Benefits outweigh its burdens.
TMM/P4: Guarantees that we'll get the pretty picture shown to us?
Town Counsel: All of the details in the PSDUP would be part of the Zoning.
Citizen mic: Chamber of Commerce supports and urges TM to support it
YESmic TMM/P9: A previous supporter spoke to "smart growth"
YESmic TMM/P6: have friends and family who live on Reed Street. There are commercial buildings there and there are residences there already. This is an appropriate use of this site.
TMM/P8: Will there be any parking be covered?
Doug Hartnett, Highpoint Engineering: None
Mr. Hornig, Planning Board: Abutters would be contacted, public input, for substantive changes
NOmic: calls the Question

Vote to Call the Question by Voice (VV): passes by VV

Zoning changes require TWO-THIRDS MAJORITY VOTE

Vote taken by EDev
YES: 132
NO: 24

Glenn Parker, Appropriation Committee (AC) Chair, MOVES that the AC's Report be received and placed on file under Article 1.

ARTICLE 3: Appropriate to and from Specified Stabilization Funds (budget adjustment)
Lexington's first Stabilization Funds (SFs) were established at the 2007 Annual Town Meeting.  (ATM/TM) TM may create a specified SF, alter a Fund's specified purpose, or make an appropriation from a Fund by a two-thirds majority vote. Appropriations into specified SFs are approved by a simple majority vote. This Article requests the appropriation of funds into three of the Town's specified SFs whose funding and purposes are summarized below by the AC in their report:
  • Traffic Mitigation SF is funded by commitments from developers to mitigate the impacts of rezoning. It supports, in whole or in part, projects to improve the Town's transportation infrastructure, such as street intersections, traffic signals, etc.
  • Transportation Demand Management SF is funded by commitments from developers. Initially created to support Lexpress, the Fund's purpose has since been broadened to support "the planning and operations of transportation services to serve the needs of town residents and businesses." It now funds the Lexpress bus service and the Town's contribution to the REV Shuttle.
  • Capital SF holds funds that TM has set aside for future capital projects of the Town.

AC: 8-0 in SUPPORT

No Comments or Questions


Vote taken by Electronic Devices (EDev)
YES: 150
NO: 0

ARTICLE 8: Appropriate Funding for 25% Design of the Route 4/225 Bedford Street-Hartwell Avenue-Wood Street Transportation Improvement Project
To see if the Town will vote to appropriate $1.6M to develop 25% design for a major transportation improvement project to include:
  • on- and off-ramps of I-95
  • Bedford Street and Hartwell Avenue intersection
  • minor improvements on Wood Street
  • sidewalks or multi-modal path and bike lanes on both sides of the roadways
  • safe pedestrian accommodations and crossings
This is the first step of a multi-million dollar project (~$49M) slated for completion with Massachusetts Department of Transportation (Mass DOT). The goal is to create a safe street for all users (pedestrians, cyclists, motorists). A future request for the Town to fund through 100% design (Plans, Specifications, and Estimates) would follow at a later Town Meeting. Funding request for 25% design now will enable the Town to stay on the state's Long Range Transportation Plan to eventually obtain external resources to fund construction costs to bring the project through completion.

PB's Letter of Support to Select Board is HERE
Presentation is HERE
Town's FAQ is HERE
Area Map showing estimated project limits, HERE
Town Manager Jim Malloy with the presentation.


Comments & Questions
TMM/P6: How is Bedford involved?
TMgr: Invited Bedford TMgr to the beginning of this process
NOmic TMM/P6: Prop Dept Exclusion?
Select Board Member Pato: No plans as yet
TMgr: Prop 2.5 isn't supposed to be part of this MOTION.
SB Pato MOVES to STRIKE the Prop 2.5 language in the MOTION:

[From "...provided that no sums shall be borrowed or expended pursuant to this vote unless the town shall have voted to exclude the amounts needed to repay any borrowing pursuant to this vote from the limitations on the property tax levy imposed b y M.G.L. Chapter 59, section 21C (otherwise known as Proposition 2 ½.."]

TMod calls for a VV on the proposed amended language TO STRIKE in the MOTION: the ayes have it

TMM/P8: I look to the opinions of the finance boards. Disappointed to hear the CEC voted 5-1.
NOmic TMM/P6: Process. We should have the public process before voting on funding.
TMM/P8: Bus lanes?
TMgr: It's too premature, no studies as yet.
YESmic TMM/P2: Runs in parallel with Hartwell Avenue rezoning initiative: Police Station, High School getting into the pipeline soon...time is now.
Qmic TMM/P6: Used to seeing a scope of work associated with design funding. Will it have to follow the 25% scope of work?
TMgr: There is a section of Mass DOT's design guide, cannot do less than that, can do more.
Qmic TMM/P6: Clarify comments -- is there any risk in waiting til Spring or Fall?
TMgr: Looking at the Hartwell Avenue initiative, trying to do something about transpo in advance of rezoning.
YESmic TMM/P7: Have been working on this project for 35 years...if we don't act now, wel'' still be trying to do this 35 years from now...
Citizen mic: Chamber of Commerce is in Support
Qmic TMM/P2: Next phase of study?
TMgr: about 2024
Qmic TMM/P6: What is in the plan that was objected to from the state?
Town Engineer John Livesy: Round-about design at the jug-handle would not process enough of the vehicles.

YES: 139
NO: 13

ARTICLE 6: Amend Zoning Bylaw to Restrict Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) as Principal Use in the Center Business District (CBD)
The intent of the Article is to prohibit stand-alone ATMs from being a primary use in the CBD. This requires an amendment to the Zoning Bylaw, Chapter 135, § 3.4, Table 1, Row H.1.07. It would close a loophole for ATM use only  i n store-fronts.

PB Report is HERE
Jerry Michelson, Chair, Lexington Center Committee (LCC) and TMM/P5 with the presentation (which is on the website, but you can't just view, you'll have to download it.)

Lexington Center Committee (LCC): URGES SUPPORT
PB: 4-1 in SUPPORT

Qmic TMM/P6: Why have a stand alone ATM?
Hornig: Town sees ATM as "accessory use", not principal use
TMM/P4: Say CVS wanted an ATM in their store. Accessory use?
LCC: Yes
Citizen mic: Chamber of Commerce: we join the LCC in wanting to see this addressed

Zoning changes require TWO-THIRDS MAJORITY VOTE

Vote taken by EDev
YES: 145
NO: 2

ARTICLE 9: LED Streetlight Conversion
To see if the Town will vote to appropriate $875,858 for the purposes of acquiring and installing light emitting diode (LED) streetlights to replace existing streetlights in the Town, and for other costs incidental or related thereto. This Article is to fund replacement of 3,000+ streetlights in Town from induction lights to the more energy efficient LEDs (excluding Battle Green and Center areas, which will be improved once Center Streetscape project and Battle Green improvements are implemented.) The town is eligible for a state grant to pay a portion of this conversion cost (approximately 30%).

Jim Malloy Town Manager recognized with the presentation, which is HERE


Comments & Questions
TMM/P3: Will all street lights be converted?
TMgr: Yes. All streetlights converted to LEDs
TMM/P2: Will they be bright enough to see by?
TMgr: 3,000 kelvin is what's recommended
TMM/P5: Do we know the life expectency of these lights?
TMgr: 20 years, 25,000 hours
TMM/P8: Replacing by end of May to get rebate?
TMgr: Yes
YESmic: TMM/P6 Calls the Question

VV to call the Q: the Ayes have it

Vote taken by EDev
YES: 131
NO: 0

ARTICLE 2: Appropriate for Prior Year's Unpaid Bills (budget adjustment)
This is an annual article to request funds to pay bills after the close of the fiscal year. The FY19 Budget was closed out in July with only minimal adjustments.

MOTION is that this Article be Indefinitely Postponed (IP).
Select Board Member MOVES for IP

Question from Town Meeting Member/Precinct 6 (TMM/P6):


Voice Vote taken (VV): the ayes have it

ARTICLE 4: Amend FY2020 Operating, Enterprise, Revolving, and CPA Budgets (budget adjustment)
This is an annual Article to permit adjustments to the current budget (approved at 2019 ATM)

Charles Lamb MOVES to appropriate the changes.

No Questions & Comments

Requires a MAJORITY VOTE to pass

Vote taken by Electronic Devices (EDev)
YES: 128
NO: 0

Under Article 1: Report of Special Permit Residential District Committee is received and placed on file.

Under Article 1: Report of the ad hoc Crematory Study Committee is received and placed on file.


10:30 PM

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

TMMA Information Session | Special Town Meeting

Town Meeting Members Association (TMMA) hosted an information session last night, Tuesday, November 5, 7:30 PM at Jonas Clarke Middle School Auditorium.

Lexington Selectmen have called a Special Town Meeting (STM) Tuesday, November 12, 7:30 PM in Margery Milne Battin Hall of the Isaac Harris Cary Memorial Building. The Meeting may carry over to Wednesday, November 13.

Town Warrant is HERE
TMMA's Warrant Information Report is HERE
Links to Articles, Reports, and Presentations will be added, once they are made available, HERE

At the Info Session, Town Meeting Members (TMMs) heard about four of the STM Articles: Articles 5, 6, 7, & 8

Notes, in order presented:

is a proposed mixed-use development (commercial and residential) at 186 Bedford Street.
PB's Report for this STM is HERE
PB concluded, "after careful review of the impacts expected from the project" they believe the benefits to the Town will "substantially outweigh any negative impacts, particularly in light of incorporated mitigations" and APPROVES passage of this Article by a vote of 5-0.
Proponent's presentation, HERE
Documents pertaining to this project from PB page of Town's website, HERE

The Article is on the Warrant to see if the Town will vote to amend the Zoning Map and Bylaw of the Town, based on the information provided in the applicant's (revised) Preliminary Site Development and Use Plan (PSDUP)
The proposed Article would rezone the property from the present RS One Family Dwelling District to a PD Planned Development District, which would allow for renovation and addition to the existing buildings on the named parcel. 

Ed Grant, attorney (and TMM/P6), Doug Hartnett, Project Engineer from Highpoint Engineering, Inc., and Tony Ciampa, applicant, in attendance. 
Mr. Grant and Mr. Hartnett spoke briefly to the Article, offered to take questions. 
Mr. Grant stated "not much has changed since last spring's plan", noting addition of a full basement, creation of a landscape transition zone, and relocation of dumpster away from residential property.
Mr. Grant noted that many of the public benefits remain the same as proposed last April at ATM.

Questions from TMMA (in the Warrant Information Book, page 16), may have been responded to elsewhere.
No additional questions were asked.

ARTICLE 5 is an owner petition to Amend Zoning Bylaw from CD-1 to CSX District-7 on Hartwell Avenue.
PB's Report is HERE, concluding they APPROVE the Bylaw and Map amendments by a vote of 5-0 and recommends Town Meeting approval by 5-0 vote.
Presentation is HERE.

Kristine Hung, attorney with Reimer and Braunstein for her client, Russian School of Mathematics (RSM), the applicant, gave the presentation.
Ms. Hung cited March 2018 when TM approved CSX Zoning District, stating that this would give her client the most flexibility to "determine their destiny".
She said she had received 500 signatures from Lexington residents who use RSM and support this change.

To questions from TMMA (Warrant Information Report, pages 10-11), Ms. Hung responded:
1. How many other parcels in Town have been rezoned due to a request by an article sponsor and what is to limit other businesses or homeowners from requesting similar rezoning? 
Property owners can file to rezone, which requires a 2/3 vote of TM.
2. What zoning is currently used by other tutoring organizations in Lexington?
Kumon, Math Club, Math and More, and Singapore Math fall under CD and CSO zoning.
3. What proposed uses in a CSX zone also require Planning Board site plan review (e.g., traffic analysis, building height and setbacks, landscaping)?
4. What proposed uses in a CSX one do not require a site plan review?
Ms. Hung answered questions 3 & 4 together: Site plan review and site plan approval are required when adding more than 500s.f.
5. How would changing this zone to CSX fit in with the larger Hartwell Avenue planning?
Ms. Hung stated that the CSX would be complimentary of Hartwell Avenue initiatives.
Additional questions:
Question from a TMM: What is the relative capacity?
It is comparable.
TMM/P6: Asks to go back to the Use Table (page 10 of presentation). Why not asking for an amendment to the CD-1?
Client wants most flexibility, sees CSX as providing that best

ARTICLE 8 seeks to appropriate funding for 25% design of the Route 4/225 Bedford Street-Hartwell Avenue-Wood Street improvement project.
Area Map is HERE
Town's FAQ/Information Sheet is HERE
Planning Board (PB) supports APPROVAL of this project 5-0, as stated in their letter to Selectmen.

First step in a multi-million dollar project (~$49 million), slated for completion with Massachusetts Department of Transportation (Mass DOT) in 2030-2034 time band.
If possible, the Town would like to see this moved to the 2025-29 time band.
Regardless of time band, 25% design process is critical to moving forward, since Bedford Street is a state road and any proposed improvements will be subject to Mass DOT standards design review process.
Goal of this project is to create a street that is safe for all users (pedestrians, cyclists, motorists) while improving traffic flow, including reconstruction of major intersections of Bedford Street and Hartwell Avenue, on- and off-ramps to I-95, and minor improvements on Wood Street.

Jim Malloy, Lexington Town Manager, with the presentation and answers to questions, along with John Livesy, Town Engineer, who also addressed questions (two others also present, but I didn't catch their names, if they were introduced, and they did not address questions).
Cost for 25% design is $1.5 million.

See TMMA Question/Answer, page 20 of TMMA Warrant Information Report
Additional TMM Questions:
TMM/P8: What is the scope?
Bedford Street, Hartwell Avenue, Wood Street
TMM/P6: What is the cost to simply start the public engagement process, to appropriate at STM, then come to ATM?
Cost would be $1.6m or $1.7m, if appropriated separately, which Mass DOT may not likely approve. Cost for public engagement process would be at least $100K; the $1.5m cost includes public engagement process.
TMM/P8: Does Mass DOT have criteria?
John Livesy: Yes, significant. Improved safety, complete streets
TMM/P8: Has traffic spillover been considered?
Malloy: The use analysis is forthcoming, likely to impact Eldred Street
TMM/P5: Is there any info on bridges in Lexington to be done?
Malloy: No info as yet

Edit: Jerry Michelson has let me know that NO definition of ATM will be included in the Bylaw. Also, that the presentation slides, which did not project at the info session, will be posted to the Town's website, STM page, Thursday. It will include the full "Use Table", for those who would like to see it.

ARTICLE 6 would Amend Zoning Bylaw to Restrict Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) as Principal Use in the Center Business District (CBD)

The intent of the Article is to prohibit stand-alone ATMs from being a primary use in the CBD.
Amend Zoning Bylaw, Chapter 135, § 3.4, Table 1, Row H.1.07, to restrict ATMs in CBD (note there is no direct link to the Table via Lexington Bylaw website, but it is printed in the TMMA Warrant Information Book, bottom of page 12).
Amend Zoning Bylaw, Chapter 135, § 10.1, to add a definition for "automatic teller machine".

Jerry Michelson, Chair Lexington Center Committee and TMM/P5
Currently 12 ATMs in the CBD, which are in banks.
This Article would close a loophole for ATM use only in store-fronts.

See TMMA Questions/Answers in TMMA Warrant Information Book, pages 13-14.
Additional questions:
TMM/P8: Is there a negative impact from stand alone ATMs?
Banks and credit unions have ATMs. This closes the loop, provides clarification of ATM uses.

Info session concluded at ~ 8:40 PM

Monday, September 9, 2019

On the Road Again

Katherine Craven, Chair (Center-Right), at the June BESE Meeting in Revere June 2019
(Others, L-R: James Peyser, Secretary of Education; Jeff Riley,
Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education; James Morton, Vice Chair)

This month, BESE kicks off the 2019-20 school year. A recent communication from Commissioner Riley's office informed the Board that the Tuesday, September 24, 2019 Regular Meeting will be held at Taconic High School in Pittsfield.

When Katherine Craven was with Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA Executive Director 2004-2011), she said that having monthly meetings in school districts across the state provided her with a valuable perspective. When Governor Baker appointed her Chair of the Board last March she said she would bring that practice to BESE meetings .

True to her word, our first meeting on the road was last June in Revere. It was held in Revere Public Schools' new Rumney Marsh Academy middle school.

There will not be a Special Meeting on Monday night, September 23.

The Board's September Agenda is not yet posted.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Friendly 40B | Neighborhood Meeting RE: 840 Emerson Gardens Road

I’m at the Neighborhood Meeting in Estabrook Hall in the Cary Town Building to hear about “the future of Golden Living Center” at 840 Emerson Gardens Road.

The Golden Living Center is permanently closed, it was shuttered in 2018.

Tonight’s meeting was billed as an informal dialogue to discuss the future of the site and the potential for the creation of multi-family housing.

Some background from me, which I looked up following the meeting:
  • Posting a Google map, mainly for the purpose of showing the surrounding conservation lands (Arlington Great Meadows, including trail head) and the neighborhood being talked about: Emerson Gardens Road; Emerson Gardens, a 150 unit condo/apartment complex adjacent to the site; Bryant Road, leading out to Lowell Street from Emerson Gardens Road and connecting Village Circle, Page Road, Sanderson Road; Orchard Lane

Nearly every seat is taken as meeting begins on time, 7:30 PM
(Stuff in parenthesis comes from me)

Todd Nordblom (I’ll be using TN)
Introduces himself (Vice President, Nordblom Company)
his colleague from Nordblom, Todd Fremont-Smith (who is Senior Vice President and Director of Mixed-Use Projects) and Scott Seaver (President, Seaver Costruction)

(Noting here that Nordblom's website homepage has visuals of recent projects and environments. Seaver has constructed the new Woburn Public Library and is in process of the Shannon Farm 112 luxury condos and Club House on Lexington Street in Woburn).

Doug Lucente, Select Board Chair 
Elizabeth (Liz) Rust, Region Housing Services Office (RHSO)
  • (Info in the email I received from a local neighborhood group said: “Discussion to be moderated by Elizabeth Rust, Region Housing Services Office of the MAPC. The Regional Housing Services Office (RHSO) is a collaboration between the member towns of Acton, Bedford, Burlington, Concord, Lexington, Sudbury and Weston. It was formed in 2011 through an Inter-Municipal Agreement (and amended) assisted by Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC), the regional planning agency for Greater Boston. The RHSO serves its member towns by assisting with the municipal function of affordable housing, including proactive monitoring, program administration, project development and resident assistance. For more information on the RHSO, visit their website.”)
Selectman Joe Pato
Selectman Mark Sandeen
Town Manager Jim Malloy
Says Nordblom came to Selectmen to float their idea for a Friendly 40B project this past June
(link to that meeting Agenda and detail back at the top of this post)
This is a preliminary meeting
An opportunity to talk to the neighborhood
This is a good use for the land
Selectmen are here to listen
Those present are encouraged to speak up

Liz Rust:
RHSO is an affordable affordable housing group
Brief overview on 40B and Local Initiative Program, a.k.a., LIP
(for presentation, see link above for Monday, July 22)
Chapter 40B is state law that facilitates zoning permitting in exchange for restricted affordable housing
40B is primarily used as a zoning tool when the underlying zoning does not allow for the planned development
A highly regulated program with significant local input
SHI, State Housing Inventory, counts toward the 10% threshold set by the state
Lexington’s SHI is at 11.1%
Lexington has 1,327 affordable units recorded on the State’s SHI, they are created under different housing programs, including, MassHousing - 27%, Friendly 40B - 1%, Other at 42%
Two 40B housing processes: MassHousing and DHCD
(Department of Housing and Community Development)
DHCD is the Friendly 40B
Safe Harbor: ZBAs can approve or deny 40B and their decisions are held up in the courts
Friendly: local, upfront input before going forward
LIP -- local input process
LIP Application -- proposals to community, formal signature by Selectmen signifying Town support
Project viability is DHCD led

TN with the Nordblom/Seaver presentation
(it’s also in the link noted at top of this post)
Recent projects in Burlington and Woburn
“Local is somewhat regional”
Nordblom Co has been active at Third Avenue in Burlington, including Wegman's, Bancroft Hotel
Golden Living Center was built in 1970; closed in 2018
11.56 acres
90K gsf (gross square feet)
Nordblom is affiliated with Northbridge Senior Living; brought idea to them, they (Northbridge) didn’t anticipate interest
Doesn’t make sense to reuse the building as is
Site is neglected
Zoning process is LIP, 40B friendly to improve the real estate and keep on the tax rolls
Trends: own and manage about 1200-1500 apartment units
People want to live close to work, highways, these tend to be mature professionals; walk up, flat style buildings, professionally managed
Cambridge Linea is a vision; multi-family use 
(on their website and in their presentation to Selectmen, above)
Attention to scaling, massing
Access to Great Meadows (Lex), how to preserve and improve

Questions and Comments from the Public
(As there are no Question or Comment mics in play, TN takes questions of those few initially whose hands are raised)

Q: What’s current zoning?
: RO (Residential Only/one family dwellings) by right single family housing. Nordblom/Seaver want state zoning tool, 40B, to propose specific use, such as multi-family

Q: Change to 40B -- is it up to any builder or only SEAVER?
: This project is sponsored by the developers, Nordblom & Seaver
Not our intention to transfer

Q: Zoning approved first?
: Yes. Then building permit

Q: Are all rental units? How many? Market value? Seeking clarity on rental size, affordable units
: All units would be for rent. 130 or so units. 25% affordable

Q: 130 units -- any traffic studies? Water table studies? Also, most neighbors haven’t received anything (about this proposal), why?
TN: Traffic studies: haven’t studied this specific location
Water table: (no answer, I think)
Coordination: followed the recommendation from the Town for notice to residents within 300 feet of the site
(says as he reads room reaction):
Apologizes for not getting notice out to people 

(Noting here that this is where lots of interrupting, commenting, questions, reactions overtake hand-raising)

Comment: How is this good for the neighborhood?

Comment: Honestly, there are limitations.

Comment: This will generate more traffic. Very big impact. This is a big use.

Comment: There’s not really a benefit for the neighborhood.

TN: We're offering to collaborate with you.

Q: Who are you and how are you with this site? Do you own this property?
TN: We do not (own this property)
A group in NY leased it to the group that leased it under Excel
We have an agreement to buy this site from the group in NY
If not by this proposal, there are many “by right” uses: Day Care. Educational. Religious. Rehabilitation. Single family. Special permitting uses.
Friendly 40B needs neighborhood support.

Comment: In favor of affordable housing in Lexington. Senior friendly. Believe we all share same goals: concern for impacts from traffic, to the environment, strain on schools, Great Meadows 
Need help getting to this end point.
Asks everyone to be civil and respectful.
Asks if Liz Rust can moderate -- the flier said she would moderate the discussion
Liz Rust: Don’t think can be effective 
(declines to moderate)

Q: What would impact be on Arlington Great Meadow (AGM)?
TN: Entirely new site WRT drainage, etc. more vehicles

Q: Would this affect the AGM?
TN: This is private property, no easement to AGM trailhead, we would put that on the table early on.

Q: How many parking spots are you planning?
TN: Parking ratios are 1.7 per unit
Q: Is that necessary?
TN: We cannot build to 1 (per unit)

Comment: 1.7 cars/unit is equal to 2 cars to me; during commuting times that’s a lot coming from 130 units

Q: 130 units -- assume that includes amenities, like gym, swimming pool, playground, etc. What's included? The other thing is you said you’d like us to work with is plausible that if you have an agreement to buy, something is there, maybe there are some other things we would like to hear about...educational uses means 9-5 ... how do you want us to work with you? What are our choices?
TN: Amenities: we’re very early, have not designed anything; already know no pool, because of ground water table; outdoor recreation, most likely. There’s a lot of land here, maybe a tennis court?
Collaborative nature of the process: this is the conversation we wanted to have, reassess options going forward

Q: Seaver builds single family houses...why not on this site?
TN: That’s a possibility

Q: What physical access for testing is allowed? Saw a drilling rig on the site last Friday/Saturday. What notification was given to Arlington?
TN: On notification to Arlington: followed recommendations from Town Manager on notification; did not provide notification to Arlington
Drilling rig: geo technical for soil boring, soil testing

Q: What other types of testing will be ongoing?
TN: No plans at this time

Q:The property surrounds conservation land -- limitations? Testing? Zoning variances for that?
: Proximity to conservation land -- Conservation Commission (rules) still stand

Comment: He and wife have lived here for 51 years. Former chair of planning board and rep to MAPC. This is a challenging development that may not work. We’re not an island here in Lexington. Terrible shortage in housing across the state, except for the very, very wealthy. Even our Republican Gov is talking about changing zoning bylaws for local decision-making. Keep 40B decision-making local. Completely open process. Shares cautionary tale about Enfield MA and how it ended up at the bottom of the Quabbin Reservoir (Look it up)

Q: Has Q for previous questioner: understands housing need. Separate from this ad hoc process, what has Lexington done for master planning access; not amenable to 120 unit property...and they will have 2 cars, and children. Need a strategic approach. Needs to be supported by infrastructure. This isn’t.

Comment: Is a Realtor in town. 25% affordable means people living in complexes like this are not paying affordable rents without amenities. 75% rents are market rate.

Comment: Want to validate what was said before (about potential increase in # of cars): Nursing home was not a good neighbor. Was nearly hit several times. Second issue: woods and stuff were treated as a garbage dump, dirty diapers, drug paraphernalia, beer cans. Qualitative; living here because we want to live in a nice residential neighborhood.

Q: Not opposed to apartment building. 120 units sounds like a lot. Environment. Traffic. Is this project geared for elders or kids? How is it designed and marketed?
: Has yet to be designed/marketed. Probably an elevator-serviced building. Solar-ed carports. Intention is not to have children.

Q: Is it only economically viable for you if 130 units?
: It could be fewer

Comment & Q: Part of the problem with Emerson Gardens (Road) is it’s too wide, people go too fast. We were there when the nursing home was active and people did go too fast. Traffic is an issue. Is it possible to give some thought to mitigating?
TN: Understand that traffic is certainly on the top of the list. We will have resources to look at the neighborhood.

Q: Clarify process: opportunity for input from the community before selectmen signing off. How much detail: traffic study, transportation much of that will be cleared up?
Liz Rust: apply to the state, then permits. Water table analysis, parking studies, traffic all happens with permits...after application

Q: Still not clear: what are opportunities for this local input? When does the voice of this project have an impact?
: Clearly, this meeting is having an impact

Comment: We love the neighborhood. Bring other options, 130 units feels like a non-starter. Maybe there are other gradations. I’d be interested hearing about some of those

Q: In process of geo-tech studies to see what the property will allow? Are those public?
TN: Would not be accessible to the community. Types of soils, footings for types of structures ...
(reads room...quickly says:) Could make them available. Never have had people ask for them before

Comment: Studies, contact the Town, and Woburn -- Lowell Street impacts (from new development at Woburn's Shannon Farm project coming online, about 2.5 miles away), won’t know about those impacts on Lowell Street for year and a half, at least

Comment: Very worried about rental properties. Rents are so greedy. Targeting new immigrants, scams on water metering. Take advantage of foreigners, immigrants. Lots of families and kids. Only two exits, Emerson Gardens Road and Bryant Road. People enjoy it here, no place to play at Emerson Gardens.

TN: Wanted to have an Open House at the Huntington (in Burlington) so people could get a sense of the environment being thought about.
Comment: That’s a nice place, but it’s not a neighborhood.

Q: Studies on economic viability? On 130 units, perhaps upper limit; what’s lowest limit?
: Other types of housing exist on Town bylaws ...
(Bylaws are HERE)
… a variety of types ...7 single family homes, 50-60 units; duplex.
Could scale down.
Balanced housing provision through planning board and not 40B

Comment: Grove Street was balanced housing project with 10% affordable housing

Comment: For follow up meeting, please include residents at Emerson Gardens -- 150 units there

TN: Is there an association at Emerson Gardens?

Comment: (introduces self) Trustee of Emerson Gardens complex. Come to a community of residential families, been here for many years, with no real thoroughfare ... Bryant Road is a cut-through street. When we hear 130 units, 1.7 cars/unit ... real important point is to think strategically, consider impact on schools; systems are stressed. Did a little research on Register of Deeds, state & federal lien on Lexington Care LLC. Want to be strategic about this project; don’t want to create a hazardous situation with cars and traffic. Hope this is one of many conversations. Other than friendly 40B. Something that adds value for all who choose to live here.

Comment & Qs: Want to flip the conversation. Absolutely support affordable and aging in place. Affordable at all levels, not only at extremes of bell curve. Would love to support your project. What would we need to support your project? Some confirmation of traffic studies, mitigation, to demonstrate the scale, and so forth, works on the site without undue burden to the neighborhood. What are the conditions? If not attainable, some other option needs to be available.
: Yup, I hear you. Come back with some information on geo-technical; etc. is that something you want to have?
(Heads nodding all around)

Comment: Get the info to all in the neighborhoods: Page, Bryant, Sanderson

Q: What else can you tell us about other options and how we can work with you?

Q: As a gesture of good faith, could you hire someone to clean up the trash around the area

Comment: And when winter comes, plow the parking lot to access the AGM

Jim Malloy, Town Manager: The whole reason this meeting is occurring, and is Friendly 40B, is because Lexington is over 10% by a little bit. Affordable housing means it is deed restricted forever. If 40B falls below 10%, restrictions fall away after 10 years (I think he said…) Current building built in 1970. Property/surrounds could be enhanced (with this project_) ... How small a project? If single family homes, duplexes, condos, none of those units would be affordable. Last thing: good sized properties are appealing to "by right" projects

TN: Lots of feedback tonight. Next convo will be more inclusive. Because so many people not here, hope to have more of neighborhood represented. Will stick around if there are more questions tonight.

(End of meeting ~ 9:00 PM)

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Ranked Choice Voting

 Training for RCV signature gathering at Robbins Library in Arlington MA | Photo: mas

More and more we're seeing one or more ballot initiatives being used as a tool by citizens for action in the Massachusetts legislature, which in turn means turning out for training on messaging and signature gathering.

Last night I attended a training on Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) at the Robbins Library in Arlington, presented by Voter Choice Massachusetts (VCMA). Their petition awaits approval from the Attorney General, along with about a dozen others. If approved, VCMA's current legislative proposal would need to be acted upon by legislators by next spring.

VCMA is advocating for the expanded use of RCV, which allows voters to rank the candidates on the ballot in order of preference. The effort, if successful, would make Massachusetts elections more competitive and fair by encouraging the participation of more candidates and parties, and by ensuring outcomes that more accurately reflect the will of voters.

Those of us who have gathered signatures for ballot initiatives are familiar with the process. If approved, RCV signature sheets become available. The legal process requires submitting 80K certified signatures, which means submitting many more than that, and not more than 25% of signatures may come from any one county in the state. See this guidance document from the Massachusetts Secretary of State.

In a nutshell, this petition, if passed in 2020, would see RCV implemented for the 2022 ballot. RCV is a simple upgrade to the way we vote. Currently, in a field of multiple candidates, we get one chance with our vote; that choice may not gather 50% required for the win. With RCV you can set your preferences and order your choices; if your first choice doesn't get 50%, your subsequent  choices are activated until one candidate secures 50% of the electorate.

Cambridge adopted RCV in 1939. More on that HERE.

Signatures would need to be returned to City and Town Clerks by November 20, 2019 and the deadline to submit to the Secretary of State by December 4, 2019.

We will hear more about this initiative very soon. Stay tuned.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Fair Share Testimony

My testimony at the public hearing before the Joint Committee on Revenue, in Gardner Auditorium at the State House on April 11, in support of S.16 and H.86 (Fair Share)

Honorable Co-Chairs and Members of the Committee:

Thank you for the opportunity to testify in support of the Fair Share Constitutional Amendment. I’m Mary Ann Stewart of Lexington, one of the ten original signers of the Citizen’s proposal of this initiative, before it was knocked out of the hands of voters last year.

Decisions made beginning 20 years ago eliminated ~$4billion from our state budget and we have never recovered. I support the Fair Share Amendment because we badly need revenue for education and transportation.

I’m a parent and I’ve been deeply involved in education from a number of local, statewide, and national perspectives, including:
  • School Site Council Member
  • Town Meeting Member
  • State President of the Parent Teacher Association (PTA)
  • National PTA Achievement Gap Working Group; and their Council of States
  • Northeast Area Director of the National Association of State Boards of Education Board of Directors
  • School Committee Chair and Member, and
  • current Member of the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education; and the Board’s Budget Committee
Students need a well-rounded education; one that taps into their deeper learning and is based on a rich and varied curriculum that includes music, art, and athletics, and builds character, critical-thinking, courage, and more.
But, many of these programs were eliminated or severely eroded in many communities during the recession years.

To provide a sound future for our children and our Commonwealth, we must ensure that all children receive a high quality education, especially those who face the greatest challenges. We need a deeper investment in foundation funding for school districts, for early childhood education, for extended day & wrap-around services, and post-secondary education and vocational education.

Improving the quality of the education our children receive requires up-front investments for long term pay-offs to individual students, society, and to the workforce.

Determining how to raise revenue for these long term investments is a critical challenge.

One way that we can make those investments is by asking our highest income residents (who, as you know, currently pay less of their income in state and local taxes than the rest of us) to pay a little more on their income over $1 million. 
I urge an expeditious and favorable vote out of Committee for S.16/H.86, followed by scheduling a Constitutional Convention.

Thank you for your consideration.

Image credit: Portion of the actual thing ~ mas

Fair Share | Public Hearing

Note: this post has been edited to add the image above and credit at bottom. A few (regrettable) typos have also been amended ~ mas

Raise Up MA has been beating the drum for a 10:30 'be there by' for the 11 AM hearing and it has worked! Gardner Auditorium is quickly filling up. Joint Committee on Revenue staff are taking sign-ups for folks giving testimony.

11:15 AM Chair Rep. Mark Cusack has given the Call to Order.
Rep. Cusack announces that testimony will come from Legislative colleagues first
Rep. Jim O'Day and Sen. Jason Lewis with the first testimony
Sen Lewis says he is thrilled to be joined by so many colleagues
They introduce themselves

Sen Lewis: tremendous unmet needs for families and communities
Cites state education underfunding
We can accept the status quo or do something about it
Now citing our unfair tax system
S.16 and H.86 will raise the revenue we desperately need for our Commonwealth


Rep O'Day: Thanks the Committee for bringing a hearing so quickly
MA holds ourselves at an extremely high level regarding education
We are short most years on education; roads and bridges
Business communities love our education system; this legislation ensures that will continue for years to come
$20,000/week is what you earn at a million dollars a year
If you  earn above that, you should pay your fair share
We cannot continue to build a strong economy on the backs of those who struggle
Vote this bill out in an affirmative manner as soon as you can

Sen Brady (Joint Committee on Revenue Member -- JCR): Education is a big priority; our roads are in a deplorable condition; if this passes, funds not available until 2023. Kudos to our chairs for holding a public hearing on this proposal so soon in the session. We are in desperate need of revenue in our districts. We need to do better. Only affects those making over and above a million dollars


Sen Jo Comerford: Want to call attention to Sen Lewis calling our tax system 'upside down'. It is. We all know the ROI on smart investment. 14,000 wealthiest households bring in $2B. Doesn't cover the $4B lost 20 years ago that those millionaires benefit from, correct?

Sen Lewis: That's correct

I missed who asked the Q, and Rep O'Day is giving a history on the Citizen Initiative
Oh! Qs from Rep. Randy Hunt, who follows up: How do we know the funds will be dedicated to the intended purpose?

Rep O'Day: Doesn't believe this body would take us in an opposite direction

Rep Hunt: I agree. My point is, we can't guarantee going in another direction, unless an election replaces all of us...How is the $2B calculated?

Sen Lewis: We can't know precisely. It's a reasonable estimate based on tax returns and the number of taxpayers

Reminder that Sen Lewis and Rep O'Day are the lead sponsors on S.16 and H.86

Sen Hinds: Thank you to all who are here in the room and active on this issue; know many of you came from further parts of the state. There were legal challenges previously, potential here?

Sen Lewis: with a Fair Share Redux

Sen Jehlen: Inequity in our schools; challenges with public transportation. It's the will of the people and the legislature. We have a constitutional obligation and we are not meeting it. We were counting on this passing last year. It's ironic that the SJC did what they did. It will take 4 more years before this will make a difference

Exit legislators, to applause

Raise Up MA Panel:
Cindy Rowe (JALSA): Increasing transpo fares again; updating education budget formula need; RUM strongly supports FSA because it dedicates funding for education and transportation.

Peter Enrich (Professor at Northeastern Univ, specializing in state and local tax law; Former Director of ANF in Dukakis Administration): Will try to answer two questions. Why do we need a Constitutional Amendment? Short answer, our state constitution requires it. The second question: is this a proposal in proper form to forward to legislators? You know the history, and SJC said no.

Alex Hoyt (? Social Studies/History in Worcester and Hudson): Fair is the most just solution to underfunded schools. Cites constraints on doing his job well because of underfunding. Says legislators would be challenged under the same constraints

Applause; a caution from the Chair to refrain from, but seriously, that was powerful testimony from Alex!

Sabrina Davis (Coalition for Social Justice): We must invest in transportation, commuter rail, the T

Marie-Frances Rivera (MassBudget President): Think if we hadn't committed to forward-thinking investments (on edu, transpo). Glad to see education budget formula risen to priority on Beacon Hill. Cites MassBudget's report of last summer, HERE

Q: How many signatures collected?
Sabrina Davis: Exceeded all requirements
Q: Volunteers?
SD: Many volunteers
Q: Other state's experiences with similar measures
Enrich: Not a substantial out-migration due to increased taxes
Comerford: Payments on structures?
Rivera: MA is one of the most highly educated states; strong correlation between higher education and strong economy
Comerford: an indicator of strong ROI
Rivera: Yes
Hinds: Folks can be very creative how they file taxes. Provisions around shifting their income?
Enrich: Good Q. The reality, of course, is federal taxes remain far, far higher, even with the so-called federal tax reform.
Hunt: Federal tax planning would apply to any state. Tax planning when it comes to this type of constitutional amendment:
Enrich: MA taxable income is largely for federal taxes. Would people change? not likely. Would it lead people to change where they are taxed? Possibly.

High Tech Council (Chris Anderson and others)
Chris Anderson (President High Tech Council): Impacts of this proposal are actually borne out as *over-reaching*. (Cites Illinois, Connecticut, and a couple other states that I didn't catch. Basically, citing *out-migration* of some people in these states as a reason MA shouldn't pass Fair Share) 

Brad MacDougall (VP of Govt Affairs at AIM-- Associated Industries of MA): We're not afraid of tax convos. Instituting tax policy via constitution is a concern.

Chris Carlossi (?): Opposed, largely because of the impact on small biz

Q: How progressive taxes have failed, how many have been repealed or overturned?
Anderson: Several. Maine, Maryland were legislative decisions. We have anecdotal data.
Q: Is a small biz owner. Happy to pay business taxes bc employees help the biz achieve
Anderson: We're already a progressive tax state
VC Rep Schmid: Do any of your orgs have an idea of what they think we will raise?
Anderson: Says they cite decreased property values
Schmid: Represents Fall River and New Bedford. Schools suffer. I'm very interested in hearing of any forecasts or revised forecasts of what this proposal might raised
Anderson: Committed to these convos
Rep Hay: Communities your'e talking about -- do any of those states had increases in any of their budgets for education?
Response: We can do our best to find out
Comerford: Understanding S Corps -- all liabilities are substracted?
Carlossi: Yes
Comerford: On millionaire flights, three of the five states with the highest concentrations of millionaires have a millionaire tax...why worry about MA millionaires moving out of state?
Anderson: Data show numbers of millionaires going down
Comerford: Share concern about econ growth...if Millionaire Taxes are so bad, why is it that when I look at this, there is growth across the board in 8 states
Anderson: these are important questions; state fiscal stability probably are different in the examples I've shown (CT, IL)
Comerford: There are other factors that determine a state's health
Q: Clarification on flight and what it is based on; I think I heard it based on projections?
Anderson: Mine based on actual examples

Former Rep. Jay Kaufman, former Chair of JCR: Big fan of Fair Share Amendment; source of enormous regret this didn't pass on my watch; I have not the slightest doubt that our people will support FSA because they understand Adequacy and Fairness. Rep Hunt asked a Q about fungibility. (previously) We can and should legislatively establish a separate account as a guarantee of transparency

Raise Up MA Panel #2:
Melinda Marchetti (1199SEIU): Pay my fair share, time for wealthy to pay theirs

Phineas Baxendall (MassBudget): The proposed tax only falls on those over a million dollars; already gives a large tax benefit to those making the most;

Rev Andre Bennett (Zion Baptist Church in Lynn, and a couple of other orgs that I didn't catch!): Invites any other faith leaders to join them up front (several do); Speaking to the moral issue of a just tax system, instead of so many struggling families; education is a right, not a privilege

Cao Ling Zhu: Addressing in Mandarin; translator: speaking for more investment in transportation and great schools

No follow up Qs

Raise Up MA Panel #3:
Community Organizer in Chelsea: a woman of color; a mom to a college student; cannot provide our students with transportation;

Religious Leader: People in our Commonwealth are proud to contribute to an economy that works for everyone; employers need workers who are educated and can get to work on time;

Speaker is from the Small Business Alliance: Says small business often left out of policy-making process; reads letter written by Alliance members;

No follow up Qs

Raise Up Panel #4:
Ann Roderick (8th Grade Teacher): Unfair competition due to money; it's a system being bred in our schools; too many cuts in our schools leave students with significant lack of resources; inequality, competing for school choice spot bc their own cannot meet their needs...and takes district dollars with them;

Melissa Jones (Cape Cod Regional High School): Kids are hungry, abused, homeless; we fight for underserved because we care; not asking for extra funding -- asking for enough funding

(Teacher in Amherst Public Schools): cites perspective of a student with special needs in her school; large class sizes; poor air quality; we need systemic change

Rep Domb: Thank you for making the trip and speaking to this issue
Amherst T: Systemic change will help every child in the Commonwealth

No follow up Qs

(My own public testimony -- which I will post separately!)

Speaker is talking about the good of the Fair Share Amendment and trickle up economics

No Qs

Mark Callahan is President of Mass Building Trades, 75,000 members: sees deplorable conditions of infrastructure; state of our budget and of our Commonwealth depends on investment; everyone needs to pay their fair share

No Qs

Harvard Business School Panel:
Erica Eiderhoven (?) is a HBS student: says classmates will have a net worth of a million dollars within  10 years; morally reprehensible not to pass this amendment; failing and unreliable transpo system; we earned our fortunes because the rules are rigged to our benefit; 'every billionaire is a policy mistake'; tax the rich
Another student speaks to the rigged system; justice and fairness are necessary; we are subsidized by low-income households;

Rep Schmid: TY; you're obviously going to be successful and hope you stay in MA

Mass Taxpayers Foundation in opposition
Q Rep Domb: Clarify: the reason you cite for not doing this is why we were elected to determine the budget process, identify needs, we're not predetermining, we are in the moment
MTF: The Q is how and what will we make those priorities?
Rep D: With respect, the voters are telling us; I'm in the process right now; that's the job for us right now. to prioritize and direct, not have every piece in place. I agree we should be looking at other forms, so when we talk about corporate reforms I hope you'll come back
Q Rep Whipps: When you talk about 'we need a plan before we spend', many don't understand the rural school situation like where i live; need for funding mechanisms in place for local control
MTF: Needs in communities are different; concerned the money might not come in as people expect

No further testimony
Joint Committee on Revenue is adjourned
2:14 PM
Image credit: A fair day for the fair share public hearing ~ mas

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Sixth Session | 2019 Town Meeting

We're in Battin Hall, Cary Memorial Building
Call to Order comes right at 7:30 PM

A few announcements from Town Moderator (TMod)

Article 2: Report of the Planning Board
MOTION to receive the report and place on file PASSES on a VOICE VOTE (VV)
Ginna Johnson, Town Meeting Member in Precinct5 (TMM/P5) and Planning Board Member with an update on the Comprehensive Plan

Article 38: Amend Zoning Bylaw and Zoning Map, 186 Bedford Street (Owner Petition)
REVISED MOTION that this project be referred back to the Planning Board
Handout is HERE
Presentation is HERE
Planning Board's Report on Article 38 is HERE, placed on file by VV
Planning Board (PB): Supports referral back to PB
Select Board (SB): Unanimous support to refer back
Capital Expenditures Committee (CEC):
Appropriation Committee (AC):
Question Mic (Qmic) TMM/:P7 Please highlight the areas to be further refined
PB: Our report outlines what we are happy with and what we think is needed.
YESmic: TMM/P4 Cites 'Overlay Districts' under MGL Ch.40R; hopes Town will adopt before taking this up again, perhaps in the Fall
YESmic: TMM/P8
No further questions
VOTE on the REVISED MOTION is a simple majority:
YES: 160
NO: 2

Reconsideration of Article 28 (due to a technical correction): Confirm Street Acceptance and Title (Portion of Pelham Road)
James Malloy, Town Manager this correction address a concern raised by Town Counsel
SB Chair MOVES to remove 9 words in the original MOTION (removes 'on file in the office of the Town Clerk'
VOTE on Reconsidered Article 28 requires simple majority and PASSES on a VV

Debate continues on remaining parts of Article 16 (g,h,i,m,n,o,p): Appropriate for Municipal Capital Projects and Equipment
MOTION (all parts), HERE
Article 16g (removed from Consent Agenda): Sidewalk Improvements
SB: Unanimously supports
Appropriation Committee (AC): Unanimously supports
Capital Expenditures Committee (CEC): Unanimously supports
Question mic (Qmic): What color will the ramps be?
Town of Lexington (ToL): Concrete with the brick red panel
No further Qs requires 2/3 majority:
YES: 159
NO: 0

Article 16h: Hill Street New Sidewalk Project; presentation is HERE
SB: support
CEC: support
AC: support
Qmic: TMM/P8: What's the timeframe for completion?
ToL: On the golf course side by next construction season
YESmic: TMM/P8
Citizen's mic (Cmic): Resident urges support
Qmic: TMM/P8 What's the process for determine sidewalk?
ToL: The process begins with a submittal to the transpo safety group; is it buildable? From there, a survey to determine if Town owns land to put in a sidewalk
Qmic: TMM/P8: Seems we have a queue. We have a process. What prevents from building more sidewalk?
ToL: Financial aspect to do more than one in a year; also bandwidth for the Town and for the Public
YESmic: TMM/P5 
Qmic: TMM/P4 Cost is about $400/foot of asphalt, why so high?
ToL: With a 5-foot width; some unique and challenging aspects on Hill Street -- steep slopes that require retaining walls, sloping issues
No further Qs (2/3 majority):
YES: 164
NO: 0

Article 16i: Equipment Replacement (DPW); presentation is HERE
SB: support
AC: support
CEC: support
VOTE requires 2/3 majority:
YES: 164
NO: 0

Proposal to take three Articles together:
Article 16m: Municipal Technology Improvement Program
Article 16n: Application Implementation
Article 16o: Network Core Equipment Replacement
All three have support of SB and the financial committees (AC, CEC)
No Qs
VOTE requires simple majority for Article 16m,n,o:
YES: 165
NO: 0

Article 16p: Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Stations; presentation is HERE
SB and Finance Committees support
Qmic: TMM/P8 People charged or free service?
SB Member Hai: Users will pay for the cost of electricity as well as parking fee
YESmic: TMM/P2
Qmic: TMM/P3 What is the power that is going to be charging?
ToL: 240KW
Qmic: TMM/P3 Do you have plans to upgrade through Eversource? That's very slow charging rate
ToL: Current electrical output supports a Level 2 charger; depends where Eversource goes with this
Qmic: TMM/P3 Can they charge more rapidly with a higher charger?
SB Member Sandeen: Eversource's program is to charge Level 2 charges; Level 3 chargers are in special areas, like on the MassPike; can't be supported in Town Center
Qmic: TMM/P3 How will the metering be charged?
ToL: Charging stations have a charge point card or app and the Town can adjust the rates and get the appropriate amount of money over time
YESmic: TMM/P8
VOTING is a simple majority:
YES: 164
NO: 2

Article 20e: Appropriate for Lexington High School Field House Track Resurfacing
Presentation is HERE
SB: Unanimously supports
AC: Unanimously supports all items
CEC: Unanimously supports remaining parts
School Committee (SC): Unanimously supports
Qmic: TMM/P6 Q about safety
ToL: Tour of facility; researched time is now
Qmic: TMM/P6 is also an Assistant Coach for LHS Track. Is this just the track or Basketball?
ToL: Just the Track
VOTE on Article 20e requires simple majority
YES: 164
NO: 0

Article 20h: Appropriate Design Funds for a Feasibility Study to Improve the Cary Library Children's Room
Presentation for Article 20h, HERE
SB, AC, CEC are all in Unanimous Support
Qmic: TMM/P3 Support columns cost?
ToL: Don't want to comment on that yet until we understand the program
Qmic: TMM/P6 Estmated cost of $2.2M. What are likely outcomes based on what we know?
Koren Stembridge, Cary Library Director: Teen spaces was about $1.1M that didn't require structural changes. We'd like to scoop out the U-shape into more of a Square with improved sightlines. One of the busiest spaces. Want to have better flexibility and safety. Haven't invested since built/renovated in 2005
CEC: Call attention to the footnote to a capital campaign
Qmic: TMM/P6 Inadequate space. Where will that space come from?
Stembridge: We need to reallocate the space so that it is flexible (within the footprint)
YESmic: TMM/P8
YESmic: TMM/P2
Qmic: TMM/P8 Will the Memorial plaque remain in the Children's Room following rennovation?
Stembridge; Yes
No further Qs
VOTE on Article 20h requires simple majority
YES: 161
NO: 1

Reconsideration of Article 39: Amend Zoning Bylaw—Limited Site Plan Review (Citizen Article)
MOTION to reconsider requires 2/3 VOTE because notice wasn't offered within 30 minutes of the initial vote
SC: Unanimously supports
Qmic: Does the MM school fall under the purview of Town Land
ToL: it does not
YESmic: TMM/P4
Qmic: TMM/P8 Proponent did not realize the impact on LPS?
Proponent: Had not considered LPS would be impacted by the Article
YESmic: TMM/P6
Cmic: Thinks there's no harm in keeping the Article in place
YES: 137
NO: 19
MOTION to AMEND Article 39:
AMENDED MOTION adds language: [A New Part:] 6. Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter the use of land or structures for educational purposed by the Lexington Public Schools on land owned or leased by the Town of Lexington or the Lexington Public Schools shall not be subject to site plan review pursuant to §9.5
Qmic: TMM/P3 Does the PB have the bandwidth to undertake this?
PB: Yes
YESmic: TMM/P8
Qmic: TMM/P1 asks about GC districts, building heights
Final comments
VOTE on Article 39 AMENDMENT requires simple majority
YES: 120
NO: 34

VOTE on AMENDED Article 39 to change the Zoning Bylaw requires 2/3 majority
YES: 139
NO: 12

Article 27: Appropriate for Authorized Capital Improvements
Presentation is HERE
SB: 5-0 support
CEC: 4-2 in support
AC: 6-2 in support
Tourism Committee: Unanimously in support
SB Member Lucente is RECUSING
MOTION to AMEND will be for an A Part and a B Part:
Insert "a)" before the current language of the MAIN MOTION under the article and furthermore Insert "b)" That the town make a supplemental appropriation of $117,100, and authorize an increase by said amount in the appropriation made under Article 10 of the 2018 annual Town meeting, for the Center Track and Field Reconstruction, so that the total appropriation authorized by Town Meeting for these purposes by $3,457,100, and to meet this supplemental appropriation that $58,550 be appropriated from the Recreation Enterprise Fund
SB: Opposed
CEC: Opposed
AC: Opposed
SC: Opposed
Cmic has a long line of students there to speak in support
YESmic: TMM/P1
NOmic: TMM/P7
Qmic: TMM/P9 Are there grass sites for track throwing events?
ToL: Yes, on natural grass at center complex
Cmic: Resident opposes amendment
NOmic: TMM/P5
Qmic: TMM/P1 Health risks on synthetic turf?
ToL: Peer reviewed scientific studies show no negative effects
Qmic: Lincoln ever tested for toxic materials?
ToL: Yes, all tests came back that materials are safe
Qmic: TMM/P1 How is synthetic turf recycled?
ToL: Not returned to landfills, recycled into other products
Cmic: Resident is a Student at LHS and is a hammer thrower on the Track Team. Needs a Hybrid field to play on. Same for Javelins. Synthetic turf is much hotter.
Final comments
VOTE on ARTICLE 27 to AMEND to add the "A" part and also the "B" parts to the MOTION requires simple majority:
YES: 38
NO: 104
Back to the original MOTION
There were Qs
No further Qs
FINAL VOTE on ARTICLE 27 requires 2/3 majority:
YES: 129
NO: 13

No further business from previous nights
2019 Town Meeting is DISSOLVED
Image credit: Town Meeting Members use an electronic voting device to record their votes on most Articles; other votes are taken by Voice Vote. View the record of their 2019 Town Meeting votes to date HERE ~ mas