Voters packed the Rochester Memorial School on Monday night to decide the fate of 12 articles, but a majority of those voters – a vast majority, in fact – made it clear that they were in attendance mainly to stop the Community Preservation Act from making it to the spring election ballot.
Article 11– which would have enabled the Rochester electorate to vote on a state law allowing communities to establish a local fund and receive partial matching money to support affordable housing, parks and recreation (including athletic fields), open spaces, and historic resources – was soundly defeated by majority vote. A veritable parade of residents – from a 24-year-old new landowner to Planning Board Chairman Arnie Johnson – marched to the microphone to blast the CPA, with every exhortation to avoid the 1.5% property tax surcharge receiving applause.
Residents wanted no part of the program, which the Conservation Commission had advocated for during the past few months, responding to comments from opponents that it would serve special interests and hit taxpayers hard.
Elsewhere on the warrant, voters also rejected Article 3, which would have amended the Flood Plain District zoning bylaws. This decision could jeopardize FEMA flood relief in the event of a disaster, according to Rochester officials, but residents who spoke in opposition said they believed it represented overreaching regulation that could impact property values.
All other articles presented at Rochester Fall Town Meeting passed with little debate (save for Article 12, which would have created a Community Preservation Committee but was rendered unnecessary in the wake of 11’s defeat). They included:
Article 1, Supplemental Appropriations;
Article 2, Used Ladder Truck, which appropriated $75,000 for a Fire Department upgrade;
Article 4, which defines “Roadside Stand” and “Farm Stand”;
Article 5, which will regulate the dimensions of accessory structures for homeowners;
Article 6, which defines and provides zoning guidelines for medical marijuana treatment centers;
Article 7, which addresses site plan review applications and fees;
Article 8, which amends the site plan review bylaw;
Article 9, which will increase the Marriage Intention fee from $5 to $20; and
Article 10, which amends the Council on Aging bylaws.
To read the full warrant, see http://www.wanderer.com/tritown/archive/RO20131125.pdf.
By Shawn Badgley