GRAFTON – George Hill Road is one step closer to getting renovated.
Article 32, which sought to appropriate $7 million to improve the road, which is filled with cracks and potholes after years of deferred maintenance, passed at Town Meeting on Monday.
Half of the fund will come from the town’s road stabilization budget, and half via a debt exclusion.
The plans call for the road to be widened, with berms on each side. Some trees may be removed, but “we don’t want to lose the rural character,” said Town Administrator Evan Brassard.
The measure is also part of the annual Town Election ballot; the election is set for Tuesday, May 16.
Most of the warrant articles passed, including the operating and capital budgets; a request to petition the General Court to change the town clerk from elected to appointed; and a change in the zoning bylaws to allow farms in town over 20 acres to apply for a special permit to use their agricultural space for seasonal outdoor eating and drinking establishments. This special permit would be controlled by the Planning Board.
Although there are 17 agricultural parcels over 20 acres, the amendments were proposed with Houlden Farm in mind. For the past several years, the farm has run the Sunflower Shanty, a seasonal site where food, beer and wine are served, and there is live entertainment.
“The Shanty has been nothing but a gem to Grafton,” said resident Betsy Smith.
When the article passed, Town Meeting burst into applause.
Two articles – a proposed Tax Increment Financing (TIF) agreement with Feedback Earth and a citizens’ petition to dissolve the existing affordable housing trust – were passed over.
Town Meeting Moderator Dawn Anderson honored the late Jim Gallagher, an active member of Town Meeting and several town boards, by playing a recorded snippet of fife and drum music.
Sue Robbins, who has served the town for 33 years, including 25 years with the Finance Committee, was also honored. She received citations from the State House.
Speaking of the State House, state Rep. David Muradian reported that the town will receive additional funding under the FY24 state budget recently passed by the House. The budget comes before the Senate this week.
Dave Robbins provided an update on the town’s Bylaw Study Committee. Committee members are examining the current bylaws and recommending revisions where needed. The revisions are scheduled to come before this fall’s Town Meeting.
Reconstructing George Hill Road could cost $7 million