Plastic bag ban, budget, and new bylaws on Town Meeting agenda

By Douglas McCulloch | May 30, 2018

Town Meeting members will weigh in on a plastic bag ban, an $86.5 million town budget, and new bylaws when the meeting convenes on June 5.

The meeting will be held at 9 a.m. at Dartmouth Middle School. Town Meeting members, elected by voters of each of Dartmouth’s nine precincts, are eligible to vote on items. The meeting is also open to the public to observe.

New bylaws

A thin film plastic bag ban is also on the agenda. After a one-year grace period, retail stores could face fines of $200 for offering the bags, commonly used at supermarkets and retail stores. The proposal was recommended by the Select Board 3-2.

The Department of Public Works is proposing a stormwater management bylaw to give the department more authority to review land actions which falls outside of the Planning Board or Conservation Commission, according to Hickox. It is a requirement to renew the town’s federal permit to operate its stormwater system.

Voters will also take up a citizens’ petition to remove a zoning bylaw which restricts the construction of gas stations near daycares. It is proposed by Carri Corp after it was not granted a building permit for a gas station at the corner of Faunce Corner Road and Ventura Drive because a daycare is located nearby, according to Town Planner John Hansen.

The Planning Board voted 3-2 to recommend its passage, with those in the affirmative noted the law is antiquated. The Select Board did not hold a vote to recommend.

Town budget

Voters will be asked to approve the town’s $86.5 million budget, which is up from last year’s $83.2 million budget. Additions include a $100,000 legal fund for tackling problem properties, software and IT upgrades, an additional mechanic for the Department of Public Works, and a new outreach coordinator at the Council on Aging.

Capital plan

In 2019, town departments are proposing $6.5 million in major projects. Big ticket items include $2.7 million in water main upgrades. Department of Public Works Director David Hickox said the targeted roads — Rogers Street, Lucy Little Road, and roads in Padanaram — are due to be redone in the coming years.

The School Department is seeking $400,000 to begin the first phase of an overhaul of Memorial Stadium targeting lighting, grandstands, and the field. School Business Administrator James Kiely said the funding will cover design costs. He hopes to be ready to ask for full project funding next year.

Fines

Instead of a flat $250 violation for handicap parking violations, a bylaw change would establish a process of two written warnings and a $25 fine for each violation thereafter for those who have a valid placard but forget to display it. A majority of the tickets issued are for this reason, according to Greg Barnes, who oversees parking ticket appeals.

The Board of Health is proposing fines for violating land development and reuse, composting, garbage, and domestic animal regulations. If passed, fines for the first three are $300 per violation, while domestic animal regulation violations are $50 per violation.

Companies could be on the hook for $300 in fines for violating the town’s wireless colocation regulations. It allows companies to install “small cell” cellular phone antennas on telephone poles.

Town personnel and compensation

Town officials are proposing to bring four municipal unions into a one-year “bridge contract,” which Barnes said all four unions have agreed to. It would give the town more time to negotiate full three-year contracts, and time the new contract with school staff and teachers.

Town Clerk Lynn Medeiros could see her salary increase to $75,288 plus an additional $1,000 stipend for earning certifications. Seasonal assistant harbor master pay could also increase from $14.03 to $15 an hour, putting it in line with pay in other communities, according to Barnes.

Immediate needs

A $465,000 replacement of the town hall roof had to be moved up to the current fiscal year after the roof sustained damage during a March nor’easter. Changes to the funding of several previously approved projects, and paying late bills and $24,275.60 snow and ice removal deficit is also on the agenda.

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