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Appleton plans for town meeting by ballot

By Kay Neufeld | Jan 13, 2021

Appleton — The Select Board passed a motion Tuesday, Jan. 12, that will begin the process of planning a virtual public hearing and referendum in place of the 2021 Town Meeting.

The motion, passed unanimously by the board, agreed on two factors. First, the 2021 Town Meeting, which typically takes place in person so residents can vote on town warrant articles, will, instead, happen in the form of a referendum. Second, this referendum will be held at the Appleton Fire Station on Election Day and at the Town Office for early voting.

Select Board Chairman John Fenner attributed this change to the COVID-19 pandemic and government-enacted social-distancing restrictions that would make holding an in-person meeting impossible.

“It’s very unlikely that the general population will be vaccinated in time to hold a traditional meeting in June,” Fenner said. “It’s my recommendation, reluctantly, that I think we should hold it all by referendum again. Everything will be voted on at the polls.”

As a result, the board will begin planning for a voting day at the Appleton Fire Station in June, with early voting taking place at the Appleton Town Office. The board will adjust the year’s schedule accordingly to ensure everything is ready in time for this election day, including moving the Town Budget Committee meeting to March, instead of April.

Another member floated the idea of hosting the referendum at the Appleton Village School, however Fenner pointed out that the Fire Station was a better logistical choice, due to its proximity to the Town Office.

Select Board member Peter Beckett questioned the possibility of changing this decision if any factors, in regard to COVID-19, were to change for the better.

Fenner said that, “once we’ve done that warrant and sent it off for the ballots, it would be messy to change it back.”

Board member Lori Costigan suggested an in-person public hearing in the event that it became possible to do so.

For now however, everything will remain aligned with social-distancing guidelines, including a virtual public hearing leading up to the vote. The day of the referendum is still to be announced.

In other news, the town’s rabies clinic has been postponed, either to Saturday, Jan. 16, or Saturday, Jan. 23, depending on how soon the veterinarian can acquire the necessary rabies tags.




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