Selectmen approve articles for June vote

By Louis Bettcher | Apr 10, 2018
Source: LiveStream From left: Rockport Selectmen Doug Cole, Ken McKinley and Owen Casas on April 9.

Rockport — Members of the Rockport Select Board spoke in favor of a number of articles which will appear on the Annual Town Meeting Warrant in June. They discussed each of the articles during a public hearing at the Rockport Opera House April 9.

The selectmen discussed 33 articles, which ranged from amendments to the town's land use ordinance to Rockport's Coastal Waters and Harbor Ordinance. The board also recommended the amount of funds that may be appropriated to various departments throughout town for the next fiscal year.

Article 3 involves changing zone district boundaries which had been approved at last year's town meeting. The article calls for replacing a 2013 zoning map with a new 2018 edition which includes clarification of building footprints within the town's mixed business/residential zoning districts.

If approved by voters, Article 5 would delete places where "special exception" appeared in the land use ordinance and replace them with "permitted" for various uses throughout some of the town's zoning districts. As a result, these uses would no longer require an exception from the town, but would be permitted.

Another amendment would replace Section 703.3 of the LUO, currently titled "special exceptions," with a with a new section 919 titled "conditional uses." The article also calls for the "removal of jurisdiction from the zoning board of appeals to the planning board; simplified criteria of approval; and revising "SE" to read "CU" everywhere it appears on the Section 917 Table of Permitted Uses."

The amendment to the town's harbor ordinance would allow special exceptions from certain requirements upon a recommendation from the harbor committee and approval by the select board.

During a discussion of this amendment, chairman Ken McKinley said that he initially wasn't happy with the idea of granting special exceptions in the harbor, as rules for the space had been disobeyed in the past.

"I wasn't pleased at first with the harbor committee being placed as a quasi-judicial board; they didn't sign up for that....The procedure that's been outlined here -- any exception the harbor committee will make a recommendation, but the decision comes back to the select board," said McKinley.

Articles 11 - 20 discuss raising and appropriating funds for eight sources such as general government, public safety and culture and recreation for the 2018-2019 fiscal year. Article 11 seeks to allocate approximately $2 million from these sources as revenue to be used in reducing the property tax assessment.

Article 12 asks residents to raise and appropriate a total of $1.4 million for general government. Of this $321,760 would go to the town manager's office, $232,980 to town clerk, and $228,102 to Assessing. Article 13 refers to Public Assistance, and would set aside $27,145 for general assistance.

The recommended budget for public safety is $1.6 million. Article 14 asks that $631,563 be set aside for the police department, and $500,728 be allocated to the fire department. The proposed budget for the public works department is $1.9 million, and the budget for Culture and Recreation, which includes the library, is $674,829.

Articles 24 and 25 ask voters to authorize the select board, on behalf of the town, to sell and dispose of any real estate acquired by the town for non-payment of taxes and non-payment of wastewater bills. The sales would be made after consultation with the planning board and conservation commission, except for instances of reconveyance of real estate to the original owner.

Warrant articles also seek to set Oct. 16, 2018 and April 15, 2019 as the tax delinquency dates. They would also set a 7 percent interest rate on delinquent taxes and wastewater charges for the year.

Printed copies of the proposed ordinance amendments and warrant articles are at the Rockport Town Office. Voting on the town meeting warrant will take place via secret ballot on June 12.


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