Officials, residents gear up for Town Meeting on Oct. 24
Funding a new playground study, purchasing land for open space and affordable housing and a potential change to how private roads are maintained are among the 26 agenda items that will be voted on at the Fall Town Meeting on Oct. 24.
The meeting starts at 7 p.m. in the Wareham High School Auditorium. All registered voters may participate.
There are several projects that would use Community Preservation Act funds, including a $635,000 request to buy an apartment and land at 950 Main St.
For the project, the Wareham Land Trust, Turning Point and Father Bill’s and MainSpring teamed up to conserve open space while providing four apartments for those in need. The Wareham-based Turning Point and Quincy-based Father Bill’s MainSpring both seek to reduce homelessness. The money would help purchase 8 acres of land along the Weweantic River and a four-unit apartment building on the remaining two acres. Turning Point would place individuals in need in the apartments.
Community Preservation funding is generated by a 3 percent surcharge on property taxes. Community Preservation Act grant money can only be used to preserve open space, for historic preservation, for recreation, or affordable housing.
A new group, called Wareham Community for Outdoor Recreation, is asking for $75,000 in Community Preservation Act funds that would be used to design a playground at Leonard C. Lopes Field in Onset. The current playground was built in 1983 for $50,000 with the help of 1,000 volunteers.
Community for Outdoor Recreation President DaLiza Cardoza said her group is taking a similar approach and will ask volunteers to help build the playground once plans are in place. If the funds are approved, she hopes to break ground on the playground in Oct. 2017. Earlier this month, Wareham elementary school students were asked to contribute their ideas for the playground. The students’ suggestions were taken into account and some were included in the preliminary design unveiled at a public forum on Oct. 6.
Selectmen are supporting an agenda item for the second consecutive year after state lawmakers ignored a request to alter a law that would count mobile homes as affordable housing.
If the number of affordable homes in a town is below the state’s threshold, which is 10 percent of total housing units, then developers may bypass some local zoning laws and build projects more densely than zoning bylaws allow.
By counting mobile homes as affordable housing, Wareham would be above the 10 percent threshold allowing officials to hold affordable housing developments to the same standards as any other project. The agenda item, known as a “home rule petition,” will go to the legislature for final approval. While an identical bill was sent to a study committee last year, effectively killing it, officials are hopeful this year it may be approved.
The law, known as Chapter 40B, was designed to boost the number of affordable units across the state by easing the permit process for housing projects.
A new bylaw is on the agenda that if adopted would require town crews to repair private roads in town. Placed on the agenda by a citizens’ petition, meaning Selectmen were required to include it, the bylaw seeks to have private roads graded twice a year. Currently, if private road residents want repairs they must appear before Selectmen for approval and then pay for the cost of materials and labor.
The Wareham Board of Sewer Commissioners is seeking approval to transfer $250,000 and $170,000 from the Wareham Pollution Control Facility’s funds to its annual budget for an upgrade and an inspection, respectively.
Wareham Pollution Control Facility Director Guy Campinha noted that the structural integrity of an aging sewer main that runs from a pump station at the Narrows to the plant, located on Tony’s Lane, must be examined. The funds will be used to rent a specialized camera designed to inspect the inside of the main. Campinha said the work is necessary to catch any problems before a costly break occurs.
The $250,000 will be used to mitigate odors coming from open air sewage basins at the facility. Earlier this summer, residents in neighborhoods adjacent to the plant voiced their concerns about intolerable smells wafting into their homes.
The agenda also includes a request from the school officials to purchase a dump truck for maintenance, minor changes to Zoning Bylaws and the adoption of the fiscal year 2017 capital plan. This year, the plan calls for new surveillance equipment, electric cars and a replacement bucket truck. For more on the capital plan, see page 14.
The Harbormaster’s Department is requesting a transfer of funds from one its accounts to its Maintenance and Improvement Account for a number of upgrades. Those include: $10,000 for upkeep of moorings, docks, pier and public access areas; $6,000 for patrol boat and vehicle maintenance; $20,400 to purchase two, all-terrain vehicles with snowplows for shoreline access; and $11,728 to make a lease payment on a 1 ton, 4x4 vehicle.