Town Meeting rejects citizens’ petitions regarding MBTA

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Town Meeting rejects citizens’ petitions regarding MBTA
Hudson residents raise their red papers to vote on the last of the petitioned articles related to the MBTA. They voted to follow the Finance Committee’s recommendation to not become a member. (Photo/Sarah Freedman)

HUDSON – The residents of Hudson voted to not become a Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) community or place a question on the town ballot for this purpose at Town Meeting.

This year there were five petitioned articles on the warrant connected to the MBTA.

Article 37 was a vote to place on the official ballot for the town of Hudson a question to have the town be added to the MBTA organization. As a MBTA community, land could be sold to the MBTA, including parcels owned by the town along the railroad right-ofway. Hudson would pay an annual fee to the MBTA and fulfill all of the zoning requirements that MBTA communities must meet.

The MBTA cannot take the railroad right-of-way parcels by eminent domain, and this process of becoming a community under the MBTA purview is the one way for the land to be acquired by the organization, if it chooses to do so.

The Finance Committee did not recommend this article because if it passed, the town would be subject to a yearly assessment from the MBTA, which could be estimated at hundreds of thousands of dollars. In addition, Hudson would have been subject to MBTA Communities compliance requirements, and there is no way to rescind the process of becoming a MBTA community.

Director of Planning and Community Development Kristina Johnson noted some of the implications if the article was to pass. She said there was an automatic financial assessment with a convoluted formula.

She said, “Both municipal counsel and I tried to follow up with the MBTA. In true fashion, [we] didn’t really get a lot of help in terms of what that formula actually would yield.”

Furthermore, she noted the MBTA would not be compelled to provide service to Hudson, so they could end up paying for a service they are not receiving. She noted that Sudbury and Sherborn are two towns where this is the case.

Johnson said, “We already receive transit service through the MetroWest Transit Authority.”

They would also have to zone 50 acres for multifamily housing as a MBTA community.

Unlike Hudson, she emphasized that the communities who are going forward with this ballot question have planned for years about the decision.

One resident brought up Milton and how the town now has the MBTA taking legal action. The town voted no to the land-use plan after it was put on the ballot, according to a March Boston Globe article.

Select Board member James Quinn said he has looked at the article “long and hard.”

He added, “To simplify this is my mind, what it’s going to do is put another hand in our pocket, and I’m dead set against that.”

He added, “To simplify this is my mind, what it’s going to do is put another hand in our pocket, and I’m dead set against that.”

Articles 38 and 39 related to Article 37 in that they were articles to authorize the sale by auction or sealed bids of two parcels of land known as Parcel 1 and Parcel 6. The parcels are railroad right-of-ways that the town could have put up for bid to the MBTA.

The MBTA is leasing its land in Hudson to Eversource for $425,000 a year and an annual escalation over 20 years for construction of a subsurface transmission line. A passing vote at Town Meeting would have enabled the MBTA or another bidder to purchase from the town at fair value the parcels.

The parcels are located at the western edge of property behind 558 Main St. to the eastern edge of property behind 571 Main St. and midway between Chestnut Street and Main Street through Hudson Supply Land, and both would provide a one-time revenue to the town.

Articles 40 and 41 are similar to the previous two, but would authorize the town of Hudson to lease the railroad right-of-way parcels to the MBTA at fair value. The town would receive a recurring revenue with this option.

Articles 38 to 41 were not recommended by the Finance Committee because it “is an attempt to bring the town into unnecessary and costly conflict with the MBTA regarding the ownership of this parcel,” as stated in the warrant.

Ultimately, the residents voted to follow the recommendation of the Finance Committee to not approve the contents of Article 37 to 41.

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