By Melanie Petrucci, Contributing Writer
Northborough – Northborough’s Annual Town Meeting convened Monday, April 24 at Algonquin Regional High School to act upon 55 warrant articles. Town Moderator Frederick George, Jr. oversaw the meeting, which concluded in less than four hours.
Articles involving the town’s budget, school budgets, revolving accounts, appropriations and stabilization funds all passed with virtually no discussion. Town Administrator John Coderre and School Superintendent Christine Johnson presented their budgets which were accepted.
The town’s capital budget articles also passed, which will allow officials to purchase vehicles for the Fire and Police Departments and equipment for the Department of Public Works.
Article 29 allows for $300,000 to be transferred from free cash for road improvements. Public works projects such as the Fisher Street culvert, the Crawford Street slope easements and retaining wall and the West Main Street sewer pump station will move forward.
Approved capital improvements include a one ton truck service truck for water and sewer and Phase II of the Proctor Elementary School roof which have been funded from free cash.
John Campbell, chair of the Open Space Committee presented articles, which easily passed, pertaining to open space and transfers of parcels of town-owned land at West and Church streets, Davis Street and Crawford Street to the Conservation Commission.
Campbell then presented seven articles that were relevant to the Community Preservation Fund, all of which were approved. Notably, Phase II of the Town Common Project, Article 43 (which will raise $377,400 from Community Preservation Fund revenues and its unreserved fund) was unanimously supported by the Appropriations and Financial Planning committees as well as the Board of Selectmen. This project, which is already in play, is located at 0, 39 and 45 West Main Street.
Campbell said “the best part of this article is it’s not going to cost as much as we think. Through a National Parks Service reimbursement grant, we will get $215,000 after the project is complete.” The town will ultimately only be responsible for $162,400.
“This is a really good deal,” he added. “The Town Common is a really exciting idea and it’s another way for the town to gather.”
TM voters then approved this article.
George Pember, member of the Planning Board and Joseph Atchue, Town Building Inspector, presented Articles 47 and 48 which involve the final stages needed for the town to achieve Green Community status in the state’s Green Communities Program.
Article 47 would amend Part 2 of the Northborough Town Code by regulating the design of new residential and commercial construction over 100,000 square feet, according to state energy efficiency codes. Article 48 will amend the same code pertaining to classification of uses relevant to industrial and research and development.
“We ought to do this on principle. It’s the right thing to do and, there can be a lot of money if you are a Green Community regarding access to grants,” Pember said. “We could get as much as $145,000 in the first year.”
Town resident Mark Tessier spoke and recommended a “no” vote because, “Too many of these codes rely solely on operating costs.” He continued, “The operational costs might be less but the initial costs [building] aren’t… if you vote for these two articles you are taking away that choice.”
The voters approved articles 47 and 48 with no further comment and will go into effect Saturday, July 1, 2017.