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Next Town Meeting

The next Town Meeting will be held at 7:00pm on Monday, October 20th, 2014 at the Middle School auditorium. The warrant is available interactively below and in PDF form further below under "Town Meeting Warrants - 2014".

Spring 2014 Town Meeting Warrant Articles

ARTICLE 1: PRIOR YEAR BILLS

To see if the Town will vote to transfer from available funds a sum or sums of money for the payment of unpaid bills from prior fiscal years, or to take any other action relative thereto.

-BOARD OF SELECTMEN

Board of Selectmen:
Finance Committee:


Summary: Town Meeting approval is required to pay bills from a prior fiscal year. A list of unpaid bills will be provided at Town Meeting.
ARTICLE 2: AMEND THE FISCAL YEAR 2015 TOWN OPERATING BUDGET

To see if the Town will vote to amend the Fiscal Year 2015 Operating Budget as adopted under Article 5 of the April 28, 2014 Spring Town Meeting, and vote to raise and appropriate and/or transfer from available funds a sum or sums of money as may be necessary to defray the expenses of the Town for Fiscal Year 2015, or to take any other action relative thereto.

-FINANCE COMMITTEE
 BOARD OF SELECTMEN
 TOWN MANAGER

Board of Selectmen:
Finance Committee:


Summary: The Fiscal Year 2015 Town Operating Budget was approved at the 2014 Spring Town Meeting in April, 2014. Any changes to this Budget would have to be made prior to setting the tax rate. The purpose of this article is to make any necessary changes to balance the FY 2015 Operating Budget. Please see the Town Manager’s Report contained in the back of this Warrant for an explanation outlining the proposed changes.
ARTICLE 3: TRANSFER MONEY INTO THE CAPITAL STABILIZATION FUND

To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate and/or transfer from available funds a sum or sums of money to be added to the sum already on deposit in the Capital Stabilization Fund, or to take any other action relative thereto.

-BOARD OF SELECTMEN
Board of Selectmen:
Finance Committee:


Summary: The Fund has a balance of $167,891. The financial management goal is to achieve and maintain a balance in the Capital Stabilization Fund equal to 1.5% of the total annual budget. Any balance beyond the 1.5% level should be added to the Capital Stabilization Fund in conjunction with the Capital Plan to reduce overall borrowing and associated costs. The target amount for the Capital Stabilization Fund will be provided at Town Meeting.
ARTICLE 4: TRANSFER MONEY INTO THE STABILIZATION FUND

To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate and/or transfer from available funds a sum or sums of money to be added to the sum already on deposit in the Stabilization Fund, or to take any other action relative thereto.

-BOARD OF SELECTMEN
Board of Selectmen:
Finance Committee:


Summary: The balance in this fund is $1.46 million. The financial management goal is to achieve and maintain a balance in the Stabilization Fund equal to 5% of the total annual budget. The target amount for the Stabilization Fund will be provided at Town Meeting.
ARTICLE 5: OFFSET THE TAX RATE

To see if the Town will vote to transfer a sum of money from the General Excess and Deficiency Fund (Free Cash) or from other available funds for the purpose of affecting the tax rate for the period beginning July 1, 2014, or to take any other action relative thereto.

-BOARD OF SELECTMEN
Board of Selectmen:
Finance Committee:


Summary: The intent of this article is to use a portion of Free Cash or General Stabilization Fund monies as a funding source for the FY 2015 Budget in order to lower the amount of money required to be raised from taxes or to balance a deficit budget. The amount of Free Cash and General Stabilization Fund monies available for appropriation will be provided at Town Meeting.
ARTICLE 6: ACCEPT LOCAL OPTION MEALS TAX

To see if the Town will vote to accept the provisions of Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 64L, §2, which would authorize the Town to impose a local sales tax on the sale of restaurant meals originating within the Town of Groton, or to take any other action relative thereto.

-BOARD OF SELECTMEN
Board of Selectmen:
Finance Committee:


Summary: Acceptance of this State statute would allow the Town to impose an excise of 0.75% on the sales of restaurant meals originating within the Town of Groton. The Department of Revenue would collect the local meals excise at the time it collects the state tax on the sale. The local excise applies to all meals subject to the state sales tax. Under the statute, the Town cannot vary the rate or the meals subject to this excise. It is estimated that this excise will generate over $100,000 annually for the Town of Groton.
ARTICLE 7: POLICE DEPARTMENT DATA CONVERSION

To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate, transfer from available funds and/or borrow a sum or sums of money, to be expended by the Town Manager, to pay for the data conversion and migration of police records for the Groton Police Department, and for all costs associated and related thereto, or to take any other action relative thereto.

-BOARD OF SELECTMEN
Board of Selectmen:
Finance Committee:


Summary: The Police Department currently maintains records extending back to the 1990s on three different servers. Searches for data must take place on three separate systems, lengthening the time searches take and increasing the chance that something is missed. Maintaining these servers is costly, and finding parts to replace failed components is becoming increasingly difficult. Last Spring, the oldest system suffered a hardware failure that resulted in the system being down for two months, with a cost to fix exceeding $3,000. Many surrounding police departments simply gave up a decade or more of data when their similar-aged servers died or malfunctioned. This one-time expense will take data from two older systems and migrate it to the current system. It should take about three weeks to migrate the data, at which time the older systems can be removed from the network.
ARTICLE 8: PUBLIC SAFETY BUILDING IMPROVEMENTS – RENAME BUILDING

To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate, transfer from available funds and/or borrow a sum or sums of money, to be expended by the Town Manager, to make improvements and necessary repairs to the current Public Safety Building on Pleasant Street, including all costs associated and related thereto, and to rename said building from the Public Safety Building to the Groton Police Department, or to take any other action relative thereto.

-BOARD OF SELECTMEN
Board of Selectmen:
Finance Committee:

Summary: Now that the Fire Department has moved out of the Public Safety Building into their new headquarters on Farmers Row, the Police Department will be taking over the entire building. In order to convert the space formerly used by the Fire Department into usable space for the Police Department, various improvements and repairs are required. The purpose of this article is to provide the necessary funding to accomplish this task. Additionally, since the building will be occupied only by the Police Department, it should be renamed “Groton Police Department”.
ARTICLE 9: SALE OR LEASE OF PRESCOTT SCHOOL

To see if the Town will vote to authorize the Board of Selectmen to sell and/or lease, for a period not to exceed 99 years, the building known as Prescott School, which comprises approximately 27,330 square feet, and all or a portion of the 2.81 acre site on which it is located at 145 Main Street, Groton, Massachusetts, to take all necessary action to comply with the General Laws of the Commonwealth for the disposal of said building, and to petition the General Court for any necessary special legislation, or to take any other action relative thereto.

-BOARD OF SELECTMEN
Board of Selectmen:
Finance Committee:


Summary: The Board of Selectmen has issued two Requests for Proposals (RFP) to sell the Prescott School. The last RFP generated one proposal to convert the building to a business use and was presented to the 2014 Spring Town Meeting for approval. While the article received majority approval, it did not receive the necessary 2/3’s vote required to dispose of municipal property. The Selectmen have hired a realtor to help market the property and have reissued the RFP. While the previous proposer has notified the Board of Selectmen that he is willing to keep his proposal before the Town for consideration, the Selectmen will also review and consider any other proposal received. The Board of Selectmen will present the former or a new proposal to the Fall Town Meeting for consideration.
ARTICLE 10: TAX INCREMENT FINANCING PLAN FOR PRESCOTT SCHOOL SITE

To see if the Town will vote to authorize the Board of Selectmen to prepare and submit to the Massachusetts Economic Assistance Coordinating Council a certified project application for designation of the property known as the Prescott School located at 145 Main Street, Groton, Massachusetts, and shown on Assessors’ Map 113, Parcel 43, as an Economic Opportunity Area, pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 23A of the General Laws; and further, to authorize the Board of Selectmen to enter into a tax increment financing plan with Prescott Place, LLC pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 40, Section 59 of the General Laws, in connection with the development of said property; and to authorize the Board of Selectmen to take such actions as are necessary to obtain approval of the certified project application and to implement the tax increment financing plan, or to take any other action relative thereto.

-BOARD OF SELECTMEN
Board of Selectmen:
Finance Committee:

Summary: A part of the previous proposal received for the sale of the Prescott School was a request from the Proposer “Prescott Place, LLC”, to enter into a Tax Increment Financing Plan to help finance the proposed renovations to the Prescott School. This is similar to what was done with Capstone Properties when they renovated Rivercourt Residences. The Board of Selectmen is placing this article on the Warrant as a placeholder in the event it decides to move forward with the Proposal received from Prescott Place, LLC for the sale of the Prescott School. A more detailed explanation will be presented to Town Meeting should the Selectmen decide to move forward with this sale.
ARTICLE 11: AMEND ZONING BYLAW – TOWN CENTER OVERLAY DISTRICT

To see if the Town will vote to amend the Code of the Town of Groton, Chapter 218, Zoning, as follows:
In Article V, Special Regulations, by deleting the second sentence of Section 218-30.2.A,
describing the boundaries of the existing Town Center Overlay District and replace it with the following:

The boundaries of the TCOD are delineated on a map entitled "Town Center Overlay District, Town of Groton, Massachusetts" dated August 22, 2014, a copy of said map being on file in the Office of the Town Clerk.

 or to take any other action relative thereto.

-BOARD OF SELECTMEN
 PLANNING BOARD
Board of Selectmen:
Finance Committee:
Planning Board:


Summary: The Board of Selectmen, working in conjunction with the Planning Board, would like to amend the boundary of the Town Center Overlay District to include the Prescott School. Currently, the Prescott School is zoned only for public use. As stated previously in this Warrant, the Board of Selectmen is in the process of marketing the Prescott School with the intent of selling the facility. Any intended use of the property would require it to be re-zoned. It is the feeling of the Board of Selectmen and Planning Board that adding the property to the overlay district would be the best course of action.
ARTICLE 12: SALE OR LEASE OF TARBELL SCHOOL

To see if the Town will vote to authorize the Board of Selectmen to sell and/or lease, for a period not to exceed 99 years, the building known as the Tarbell School which comprises approximately 8,300 square feet and all or a portion of the 1.44 acre site on which it is located at 73 Pepperell Road, West Groton, Massachusetts, to take all necessary action to comply with the General Laws of the Commonwealth for the disposal of said building, and to petition the General Court for any necessary special legislation, or to take any other action relative thereto.

-BOARD OF SELECTMEN
Board of Selectmen:
Finance Committee:


Summary: The Tarbell School has been vacant for the past five years. The Board of Selectmen had issued a previous Request for Proposals that generated one proposal to convert the building to a Day Care and Educational Use Facility. A previous Town Meeting had authorized the Board of Selectmen to dispose of the Tarbell School for this purpose. After negotiating a purchase and sale agreement, the two sides were unable to close on the sale and the Board of Selectmen rescinded the P&S. The Selectmen have issued another RFP and will present a proposal to Town Meeting based on the best proposal received.
ARTICLE 13: AMEND ZONING BYLAW – REZONE TARBELL SCHOOL PARCEL

To see if the Town will vote to amend Chapter 218 of the Code of the Town of Groton to rezone from Public Use (P) to Residential-Agricultural (R-A) a parcel of land located at 73 Pepperell Road consisting of approximately 1.44 acres, being shown on Assessors Map 102, Parcel 22, or to take any other action relative thereto.

-BOARD OF SELECTMEN
Board of Selectmen:
Finance Committee:


Summary: Currently, the Tarbell School is zoned as Public Use. The purpose of this article is to rezone the property to allow for a residential use, to take into account any purchase proposal received by the Town and presented to Town Meeting for approval.
ARTICLE 14: ENGINEERING FUNDING FOR LOST LAKE WATERSHED

To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate, transfer from available funds, and/or borrow a sum or sums of money, to be expended by the Town Manager, upon approval of the Lost Lake Watershed Advisory Committee, for the purpose of retaining the necessary experts/expertise to assist the Lost Lake Watershed Advisory Committee in quantitatively determining the level and source of nutrients and phosphates impacting Lost Lake/Knops Pond and all costs associated and related thereto, including the provision of proposed solutions, or to take any other action relative thereto.

-BOARD OF SELECTMEN
 LOST LAKE WATERSHED COMMITTEE
Board of Selectmen:
Finance Committee:


Summary: The Board of Selectmen recently expanded the Lost Lake Sewer Advisory Committee to a seven (7) member Committee and renamed it the Lost Lake Watershed Advisory Committee. The LLSAC had completed its work and determined that there is still the need for further study of the entire Watershed and that based on the information before them, the installation of a Sewer System may not be the only solution to nutrient loading in Lost Lake. In expanding and renaming this Committee, the Selectmen charged it with the responsibility of reviewing and studying all point and non-point source discharges in the entire Lost Lake Watershed that may impact Lost Lake and Knops Pond. The purpose of this article is to provide funding to the Committee to hire the necessary expertise to help it fulfill this charge.
ARTICLE 15: CONSERVATION COMMISSION – ACQUIRE PARCEL

To see if the Town will vote to authorize the Conservation Commission to acquire, on behalf of the Town, a certain parcel of land located off Graniteville Road shown as Parcel 71 on Groton Assessors’ Map 251 and containing approximately 81.5 acres, said land to be managed and controlled by the Conservation Commission for conservation and passive outdoor recreation purposes pursuant to Section 8C of Chapter 40 of the General Laws; to transfer or appropriate from the Conservation Fund a sum of money therefor, in advance of a Massachusetts Local Acquisition for Natural Diversity (LAND) Program (formerly Self-Help) grant with said proceeds to be returned to the Conservation Fund; to authorize the Conservation Commission to apply for a Massachusetts LAND Program grant for such acquisition pursuant to Section 11 of Chapter 132A of the General Laws and to act as the official representative for such application; to authorize the Board of Selectmen to petition the General Court for any special legislation necessary for such acquisition; and to authorize the Conservation Commission and Board of Selectmen to execute all documents and take all actions necessary in connection with such acquisition; or to take any other action relative thereto.

-CONSERVATION COMMISSION
Board of Selectmen:
Finance Committee:
Conservation Commission
:

Summary: Applying for a state grant will enable the Town to leverage funds already set aside in the Conservation Fund for the acquisition of conservation land through a fee simple purchase. The LAND grant request is for the Town of Groton’s fee simple acquisition of 81.5± acres of land off Graniteville Road. This land has been designated by the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program as BioMap II Core Habitat for Species of Conservation Concern, as well as Estimated Habitat for Rare Wildlife. The parcel connects to hundreds of acres of adjacent protected open space owned by the Town and under the control of the Conservation Commission. Across the town line in Westford is the Village View Conservation Restriction and the undeveloped land of Westford Sportsman’s Club. In keeping with the Commission’s policy and goals articulated in the 2012 Groton Open Space & Recreation Plan, the members believe the acquisition of this parcel is an opportunity to preserve and protect rare species habitat and extend a recreational trail network.
ARTICLE 16: COMMUNITY PRESERVATION FUNDING RECOMMENDATIONS

To see if the Town will vote to adopt and approve the recommendations of the Community Preservation Committee for Fiscal Year 2015, and vote to implement such recommendations by appropriating a sum or sums of money from the Community Preservation Fund established pursuant to Chapter 44B of the General Laws, or to take any other action relative thereto.

-COMMUNITY PRESERVATION COMMITTEE

CPC Proposal A: Sargisson Beach Restoration $75,000
Summary: The 2014 Spring Town Meeting appropriated $109,590 to address erosion issues at Sargisson Beach. The project will address and repair the severely undercut and eroding lake banks so as to create improved fishing access to the deepest part of the Lake as well as repair the existing stone wall and provide storm water runoff management to prevent further beach sand erosion. The original project request was $170,500, but due to available funds it was broken into two phases with Phase I approved at the 2014 Spring Town Meeting. Additional Community Preservation Act funding became available this summer and the Sargisson Beach Committee approached the Community Preservation Committee with an out of cycle application to seek the entire project funding. The Town put the project out to bid in August and broke it out into two phases, with Phase II being contingent upon funding at the Fall Town Meeting. Completing the project all at once will provide the Town with a cost savings. The purpose of this article is to seek the Phase II Funding.

Board of Selectmen:
Finance Committee:
Community Preservation Committee:
ARTICLE 17: EXTEND GROTON CENTER SEWER SYSTEM

To see if the Town will vote to extend the “Groton Center Sewer System” as established by the vote of the Special Town Meeting of February 6, 1989, under Article 7, and as shown most recently on the plan approved under Article 12 of the 2012 Fall Town Meeting held on October 29, 2012, to include Assessors’ Lot 115-16, as shown on the plan by Dillis and Mische, dated August 31, 2014 on file in the Town Clerk’s Office, provided that all costs of designing, laying and construction of the connection to the sewer system, costs for additional capacity and General Benefits Facility Charges are paid by the owner of the property benefitted thereby, or to take any other action relative thereto.

-BOARD OF SEWER COMMISSIONERS
Board of Selectmen:
Finance Committee:
Sewer Commission:


Summary: This article seeks approval to extend the Groton Center Sewer System to include Assessors’ Lot 115-16.
ARTICLE 18: EXTEND GROTON CENTER SEWER SYSTEM

To see if the Town will vote to extend the “Groton Center Sewer System” as established by the vote of the Special Town Meeting of February 6, 1989, under Article 7, and as shown most recently on the plan approved under Article 12 of the 2012 Fall Town Meeting held on October 29, 2012, to include Assessors’ Lot 109-20, Lot109-29, Lot 109-19 and Lot 109-30, as shown on the plan dated August 31, 2014 on file in the Town Clerk’s Office, provided that all costs of designing, laying and construction of the connection to the sewer system, costs for additional capacity and General Benefits Facility Charges are paid by the owner of the property(s) benefitted thereby, or to take any other action relative thereto.

-BOARD OF SEWER COMMISSIONERS
Board of Selectmen:
Finance Committee:
Sewer Commission:


Summary: This article seeks approval to extend the Groton Center Sewer System to include Assessors’ Lot 109-20, Lot 109-29, Lot 109-19 and Lot 109-30.
ARTICLE 19: AMEND CHAPTER 128 “DOGS” OF THE GROTON CODE

To see if the Town will vote to amend Chapter 128, “Dogs”, of the Code of the Town of Groton by deleting the words “Dog Officer” throughout Chapter 128 and inserting in its place the words “Animal Control Officer”, or to take any other action relative thereto.

-BOARD OF SELECTMEN
Board of Selectmen:
Finance Committee:


Summary: Recently, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts changed the position of Dog Officer to that of Animal Control Officer and placed new requirements on the position. The Animal Control Officer now deals with more than just dogs and is required to obtain special training and certifications to serve in this role. The Town of Groton has trained two employees as Animal Control Officers and is in full compliance with State Law. The purpose of this article is to amend our Dog Bylaw to adhere to this change in State Law.
ARTICLE 20: LEASE OF LANDFILL SITE FOR SOLAR ARRAY PROJECT

To see if the Town will vote to transfer from the Board of Selectmen the care, custody, and control of all or a portion of the land located at 600 Cow Pond Brook Road, consisting of 43 acres, more or less, shown on Groton Assessors’ Maps as parcel 248-41, and known as the landfill site, to the Board of Selectmen for the purpose of lease to a solar energy electricity production entity in connection with a Groton Electric Light Department project for the installation of a solar photovoltaic array on said property; and to authorize the Board of Selectmen to take all action and execute all documents necessary in connection therewith, or to take any other action relative thereto.

-BOARD OF SELECTMEN
 ELECTRIC LIGHT COMMISSION
Board of Selectmen:
Finance Committee:


Summary: This article seeks approval of Town Meeting to allow the Board of Selectmen to enter into a long term lease with a solar energy production entity. The Electric Light Commission has been working on creating a Solar Photovoltaic Array on Town property and is ready to proceed with a project on the former landfill site on Cow Pond Brook Road. A full explanation of the project and the company to which the lease will be awarded will be provided at the Fall Town Meeting.
ARTICLE 21: AMEND CHAPTER 218 – ZONING BYLAW

To see if the Town will vote to amend the Code of the Town of Groton, Chapter 218 Zoning as follows:
  1. In Section 218-4, Definitions, by deleting Section 218-4 in its entirety and by inserting in its place a new Section 218-4, Definitions, a copy of which is on file in the office of the Town Clerk; and further,
  2. In Section 218-8, Classes of Districts, by deleting Section 218-8 in its entirety and inserting in its place a new Section 218-8, Classes of Districts, a copy of which is on file in the office of the Town Clerk; and further,
  3. In Section 218-9, Location of Districts, by striking out Section 218-9, which reads as follows: “Said districts are located and bounded as shown on a map entitled "Town of Groton, Massachusetts — Zoning Map," dated March 10, 2003, revised February 12, 2008, revised March 1, 2011, further revised January 18, 2013, and revised and amended to date, on file in the office of the Town Clerk. Said map, with the boundaries of the districts and all explanatory matter thereon, is hereby made a part of this chapter.” And inserting in its place:
    §218-9 Location of districts. Said districts are located and bounded as shown on a map entitled "Town of Groton, Massachusetts — Zoning Map," dated August 22, 2014, on file in the office of the Town Clerk. Said map, with the boundaries of the districts and all explanatory matter thereon, is hereby made a part of this chapter. And further,
  4. In Section 218-12, Intention of Districts, by deleting Section 218-12 in its entirety and inserting in its place a new Section 218-12, Intention of Districts, a copy of which is on file in the office of the Town Clerk; and further,
  5. In Section 218-13, Schedule of Use Regulations, by deleting Section 218-13 in its entirety and inserting in its place a new Section 218-13, Schedule of Use Regulations, a copy of which is on file in the office of the Town Clerk; and further,
  6. In Section 218-14, Special Use Considerations in Conservancy Districts, by deleting Section 218-14 in its entirety; and further,
  7. In Section 218-20, Schedule of Intensity Regulations, by deleting Section 218-20 in its entirety and inserting in its place a new Section 218-20, Schedule of Intensity Regulations, a copy of which is on file in the office of the Town Clerk.
    or to take any other action relative thereto.

-PLANNING BOARD
Board of Selectmen
Finance Committee:
Planning Board:


Summary: The 2012 Spring Town Meeting voted to ratify Phase I of the Comprehensive Master Plan. The proposed zoning amendments are part of the implementation plan for Economic Development. The changes include converting the existing Business (B-1) District to three new districts: Village Center District, Neighborhood District, and General Business District. The existing Manufacturing District (M-1) will be changed to Industrial District (I). The Use Regulations and Intensity Regulations will be revised to accommodate the size, scale, and locations of each district. Additionally, Conservation and Open Space Agricultural Districts will be eliminated because they are outdated. The proposed Zoning Map and complete text of the proposed amendments are available in the Office of the Town Clerk and can be viewed on the Town’s web site: www.townofgroton.org.
ARTICLE 22: AMEND CHAPTER 218 – ZONING BYLAW

To see if the Town will vote to amend the Code of the Town of Groton, Chapter 218 Zoning as follows:
  1. In Section 218-10, Boundaries of Districts, Item E, by replacing the word “manufacturing” with the word “industrial”; and further,
  2. In Section 218-18, Special Use Considerations in R-B, B-1 and M-1 Districts by replacing the phrase “R-B, B-1 and M-1 Districts” with the phrase “R-B, VCB, NB, GB, and I Districts” in the title; in subsection B by changing the caption from “Rezoning to B-1 or M-1” to “Rezoning to VCB, NB, GB or I,” and replacing the phrases “Business B-1 or Manufacturing M-1 District” and “B-1 or M-1 District” with the phrase “Business or Industrial District;” in subsection C(2) by replacing the phrase “at a location zoned B-1 or M-1 prior to January 1, 1990” with the phrase “at a location zoned Business or Industrial (or Manufacturing)” prior to January 1, 1990”; and by replacing the word “manufacturing” with the word “industrial” in subsections C(1) and D(1); and further,
  3. In Section 218-23, Off-street Parking and Loading, subsection C (1) by replacing the phrase “B-1, R-B or M-1 Districts” in the first sentence with the phrase “R-B, VCB, NB, GB, or I Districts in the first sentence; and by replacing the phrase “B-1 District” in the second sentence with the words “VCB District” so that the subsection reads as follows:
    Location. Required parking shall be on the same premises as the activity it serves in the R-B, VCB, NB, GB, or I Districts. Each parcel in the VCB District shall be credited with five on-street parking spaces if the parcel is located on Main Street (Route 119) between Lowell Road (Route 40) and Pleasant Street. Such on-street parking spaces shall not qualify as meeting parking requirements for the purposes of § 218-25A, Applicability. Parking lots located within the Groton Center area may be shared with the written consent of the landowner and the approval of the Planning Board, provided that such use will not have an adverse effect on the Town; and further,
  4. In Section 218-24, Appearance, subsection B, Promotion of Harmonious Development, by replacing the phrase “R-B Residential-Business District, a B Business District, or an M Manufacturing District” with the phrase “R-B, VCB, NB, GB, or an I District.”; and further,
  5. In Section 218-30.2, Town Center Overlay District, by replacing the phrase “Business (B-1),” with the words “Village Center Business,” in Subsection A, Definition, and by replacing “B-1” with “VCB” in Subsection C, Applicability and Permitted Use”.
    or to take any other action relative thereto.

-PLANNING BOARD
Board of Selectmen:
Finance Committee:
Planning Board:


Summary: The proposed amendment changes the references for Business District (B-1) to Village Center Business (VCB), Neighborhood Business (N-B), and General Business (G-B) and the references for Manufacturing District (M-1) to Industrial District (I) wherever they appear in the Zoning By-law.
ARTICLE 23: AMEND CHAPTER 218 – ZONING BYLAW

To see if the Town will vote to amend the Code of the Town of Groton, Chapter 218 Zoning as follows:
1. In Section 218-4, Definitions, by adding the following new definition:
ESSENTIAL PUBLIC SERVICES -- Services provided by public and private utilities, whether underground, surface, or overhead gas, electrical, or steam transmission systems and accessories thereto, such as towers, wires, sub-stations, switching stations, compression stations, and other constituent facilities, and structures, vaults, pipes, and water storage tanks.
2. In Section 218-13, Use Regulations, by deleting the following uses:

   R-A  R-B  B-1  M-1  C  O  P
Telephone, telegraph, power and
gas transmission and radio-television
broadcasting facilities
 SP SP   Y  Y  Y
 Underground gas and utility
transmission
 Y  Y  Y  Y  SP  Y  Y

and replacing them with the following use:

   R-A  R-B  VCB  NB  GB  I  O P 
Essential public services  PB  PB PB   PB  PB  PB  PB  PB


or to take any other action relative thereto.

-PLANNING BOARD
Board of Selectmen:
Finance Committee:
Planning Board:


Summary: The proposed amendment would require that a special permit application be submitted to the Planning Board for “Essential public services” (see definition) in all districts.
ARTICLE 24: ACCEPT ALTERATION OF LAYOUT OF WEST MAIN STREET

To see if the Town will vote to accept an alteration of the public way layout of West Main Street, being the portion lying adjacent to Assessors’ Parcels 218-6 and 218-6-1 as the same is shown on a plan entitled “Plan of Land in Groton, Massachusetts Prepared for Richard Kazanjian” dated May 6, 2014 and prepared by Ducharme and Dillis Civil Design Group, Inc. Engineers, a copy of which is on file in the office of the Town Clerk, in order to eliminate the portion of the right of way of West Main Street which is shown on the plan as Parcel A, or to take any other action relative thereto.

-BOARD OF SELECTMEN
Board of Selectmen:
Finance Committee:


Summary: Approval of this Article will eliminate the portion of the right of way of West Main Street lying in front of Assessors’ Parcels 218-6 and 218-6-1 (Groton Nursery and Nashoba Paddler) which has been used as the parking lot serving those properties for over forty years.
ARTICLE 25: AUTHORIZE CONVEYANCE OF PARCEL ON WEST MAIN STREET

To see if the Town will vote to transfer from the Board of Selectmen the care, custody, and control of all or a portion of the land shown as Parcel A on a plan entitled “Plan of Land in Groton, Massachusetts Prepared for Richard Kazanjian” dated May 6, 2014 and prepared by Ducharme and Dillis Civil Design Group, Inc. Engineers to the Board of Selectmen for the purpose of sale and to authorize the Board of Selectmen to convey Parcel A or allocable portions thereof to the respective owners of Assessors’ Parcels 218-6 and 218-6-1 for the sum of one ($1.00) dollar or such other sum as may be determined by the Board of Selectmen, or to take any other action relative thereto.

-BOARD OF SELECTMEN
Board of Selectmen:
Finance Committee:


Summary: Approval of this Article will authorize the conveyance of Parcel A which is comprised of 15,912 square feet to the adjacent land owners who have utilized this land as the parking lot serving Groton Nursery and Nashoba Paddler. The current owners and their predecessors in title have improved this land and utilized it as a parking lot for over forty years.
ARTICLE 26: CITIZENS PETITION – ELECTRONIC VOTING STUDY COMMITTEE

To see if the Town will vote to create the “Study Committee on Electronic Voting in Groton Town Meeting”, said Committee to be appointed by the Town Moderator; the membership of the Committee shall be as follows: the Town Moderator, the Town Clerk, Town Counsel, Town Manager, Chair of the Groton Board of Selectmen or that Chair’s designee, Chair of the Groton Finance Committee or that Chair’s designee, Groton’s Director of Information Technology or that Director’s designee, and two (2) citizens at large; said Committee’s Charge shall be to study the benefits, implementation procedures and issues, and potential problems associated with the use of electronic voting systems in an “Open” form of Town Meeting, and to make its recommendations, concerning electronic voting, to the Groton Town Meeting no later than its Annual Spring Town Meeting of 2015, which recommendations may include such proposed amendments to the Town of Groton Bylaws as said Committee deems appropriate, or to take any other action relative thereto.

CITIZENS’ PETITION
Name Address Name Address
 Robert L. Gosselin  133 Smith Street  Alberta Erickson   464 Boston Road
 Peter Myette  69 School House Road  Robert Hargraves  21 Temple Street
 Jeffrey Wallens  952 Lowell Road  Gwenneth Wallens  952 Lowell Road
 Michelle Collette  43 Windmill Hill  M. Constance Sartini  38 Mill Street
 John Giger  152 Whiley Road  Scott Harker  341 Martins Pond Road


Board of Selectmen:
Finance Committee:


Summary: The intent of this Article is to support, and advance, a key recommendation in the final Report of the Groton Town Meeting Review Study Committee, dated February 20, 2014, said recommendation being to investigate the use of electronic voting within the four (4) walls of Town Meeting.

Town Meeting Warrants and Minutes

Town Meeting

Print

Introduction

Open Town Meeting is the form of municipal government for Groton. In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, this is the basic form of governance for most small municipalities. The town is the basic unit, and Town Meeting is the method provided by the Constitution and the State Legislature for the governance of towns. Property ownership is not a requirement for voting at Town Meeting. Renters as well as owners, if registered to vote, may attend and vote at Town Meeting.

In the Open Town Meeting form of government, any registered voter may attend, speak, and vote. Attendance must be in person; there is no absentee voting in a Massachusetts Town Meeting. State law requires the town to hold at least one Town Meeting each year in the early Spring. This is an Annual Town Meeting, and the principal business of the Meeting is to appropriate money to fund the Town's expenses for the fiscal year which commences the following July 1st. Money may be provided from "free cash" or other available funds; by borrowing; or, within limits set by the state, by appropriation directly against the municipal tax rate. The town's tax rate is set annually through assessment of both real and personal property values. The Annual Town Meeting allows for action on other subjects also. If additional matters come up at a later time, they may become the subject of a Special Town Meeting which may be called by the Selectmen or by citizen's petition.

The Warrant

The Warrant is the notice to the voters of matters to be considered and acted on at an Annual or Special Town Meeting. Sometimes the articles in the Warrant are quite general, and sometimes they are very detailed and specific. Town departments and officials may request the Board of Selectmen to insert articles in the Warrant during the period in which the Selectmen publicly declare that the Warrant is "open". Citizens may also petition to place articles on an "Annual Town Meeting" Warrant. Petitions require 10 signatures of registered voters for an Annual Town Meeting Warrant, 100 signatures for a Special Town Meeting. A copy of the Warrant is posted by a Constable at the Town Hall and both Post Offices as well as other public places at least 14 days before any Town Meeting.

In the Warrant, the Selectmen call the Meeting to convene at a certain time and place within Groton. If all the articles are not acted upon in one session, the voters present decide the date and time to which the Meeting will be adjourned to complete its business. However, the Selectmen generally have suggested additional dates, reserved the facilities and made arrangements for public address systems and other aids so that Meeting usually decides to reconvene on the dates suggested by the Selectmen.

Annual Town Meetings

Groton holds two Annual Town Meetings (ATM) per year. The Spring Town Meeting is held on the last Monday in April, primarily consisting of financial articles and the budget. The Fall Town Meeting is held on the third Monday in October. The Annual Town Meetings are called to order at 7:00 PM. There is no quorum requirement for an Annual Town Meeting, which means the meeting can begin immediately no matter how many people are in attendance.

Special Town Meeting

Special Town Meetings (STM) may be called by the Board of Selectmen or by any other voter upon petition to the Selectmen. A petition to call a Special Town Meeting requires 200 signatures. A petition to add an article to the Warrant of a STM which has already been scheduled requires 100 signatures, if the Warrant is still "open". All signatures must be certified by the Town Clerk to verify that the signers are registered voters in the Town.

Special Town Meetings called by petition usually reflect the specific need of a group or committee, however, once the Warrant is opened, other articles may be added. The Board of Selectmen must call the Special Town Meeting for a date no later than 45 days after a petition is filed, and the Warrant must be posted at least two weeks prior to the scheduled date. There is a quorum requirement at Special Town Meetings; before the Meeting may begin, 2% of the registered voters must be in attendance.

Rules and Procedures of Town Meeting

Groton's Town Meeting is a blend of tradition and rules established in the book Town Meeting Time, a handbook of parliamentary law prepared under the auspices of the Massachusetts Moderators Association. This guide is simpler and easier to understand than the more widely known and consulted Robert's Rules of Order. Both books are available for reference at the Groton Public Library.

Town Meeting in Groton is held in the Groton-Dunstable Middle School Auditorium located on Main Street (Route 119) unless otherwise posted.

The Moderator

Town Meeting is conducted by the Moderator, an elected position with a term of three years. The Moderator serves as the presiding officer, regulating the proceedings, deciding all questions of order and making public declaration of all votes. The Moderator's goal is to conduct the Town Meeting in a fair, yet expeditious manner, allowing all points of view a fair hearing while still keeping the process moving.

Town Meeting Agenda

The Warrant is the official agenda for the Annual Town Meeting. It is mailed to each resident, and the voter should bring it to the Meeting, as extra copies are limited. The Annual Town Report and other informational material of importance to the Meeting are available in the lobby ouside the Auditorium as well as in the Town Clerk's office in Town Hall.

The Town Report contains much information about Groton, including the names of all elected and appointed officials, their reports for the preceding year, minutes of the previous year's Town Meetings, and financial data about the Town contained in the Town Accountant and Treasurer's Reports.

The printed Warrant contains all the articles for consideration, together with such recommendations to the Town as were available from the Finance Committee and the Selectmen. The voter needs the Finance Committee Report and the handouts since the Moderator generally refers to article by subject matter only, and frequently will not read the full text of motions to be made under the articles, but may refer instead to the Warrant. The Finance Committee holds a public hearing on the budget and financial articles and makes a Report available before the Town Meeting. Notice of the public hearing is published in the local newspaper.

Articles are usually considered in the order in which they appear in the Warrant. The Selectmen determine the order in which articles are placed on the Warrant, taking into consideration appropriateness of subject matter, the need for professional support personnel (such as engineering consultants) to be present and other relevant interests. Articles dealing with similar subject matter are often grouped together: financial, school, planning and zoning, etc. Citizen's petitions are generally placed at the end of the Warrant.

There are occasions when common sense or expediency dictates that articles should be considered in a different order from that in the Warrant, and the Meeting has the power to change the order. If the desired change is to defer consideration of an article, it may be accomplished by a "motion to postpone action" until after a specified article. If the desired change is advancement of a later article, it may be presented as a main motion if, and only if, no other business is pending. Votes to change the order of consideration normally require majority vote for passage, but if the motion is mere jockeying for position, the Moderator may, under his power to regulate the proceedings, require a two-thirds vote. A motion "to postpone indefinitely" effectively kills action on an article.

Articles and Motions

To vote effectively at Town Meeting requires both understanding the issues and understanding the wording of the motion on which one is voting. An article (as printed in the Warrant and Finance Committee Report) describes the subject under discussion, while a motion made under the article describes the specific action on which one is voting. In some cases, the action is fully and accurately described by the article, and the motion may simply be "to take affirmative action under article ___." Motions must be seconded before discussion may begin or a vote is taken. At the Groton ATM, motions for each article have recently been made and seconded by the Selectmen. A presentation of the article may then be made by the group or groups submitting the article for consideration.

Frequently, it happens that the wording of a motion differs from the wording of an article. The wording of the article must be settled prior to the close of the Warrant. The Moderator will not allow any expansion of the intent of the article since the voters must be properly warned in advance of actions they will be asked to approve. Great efforts are made to have the wording of motions in hand a few days before ATM in order to permit review by the Moderator and Town Counsel.

Speaking on a Motion

When speaking on a motion, a voter should go to one of the microphones located at the front or in the center aisle of the auditorium and give name and address and committee association (if speaking on behalf of a committee). All remarks and questions should be addressed to the Moderator. When it is apparent that several people wish to be heard, lining up expedites the proceedings. In recognizing persons who wish to speak, the Moderator gives preference to those who have not already spoken on the article currently under discussion.

Within the general framework of parliamentary procedures, the goal of the Moderator is basic fairness in the consideration of issues before the ATM. This does not mean that everyone who wishes to speak will be heard: when the Meeting decides that it has heard enough discussion and is ready to vote, a motion may be made from the floor to "move the question". Such a motion suppresses debate and must be voted on immediately. The Moderator will not hear a motion to move the question if it is presented at the end of a statement or opinion.

Amendments

If a voter wishes to change a motion in some fashion, the procedure is to amend the motion. All motions to amend must be in writing and must state exactly how the voter wishes to change the motion. That way, the Moderator can know exactly what it is the voter wants to do before ruling on the motion or putting it to a vote. A voter who wishes to amend a main motion must have the amendment in writing and available to hand to the Moderator before rising to offer the amendment. The Moderator may refuse to put to the Meeting an amendment which is not immediately available in writing - The Moderator also will rule out of order any motion to amend which changes the original motion so drastically that, in the Moderator's opinion, the motion is no longer within the "four corners" of the article.

An amendment may consist of adding, deleting, or substituting words in the motion. It may take the form of a "motion to substitute" a different motion. Sometimes a speaker tries to amend "the article", but this is improper language. It is the motion on the floor, not the article on the Warrant, that is to be amended.

A motion to amend requires only a majority vote, even though the motion to be amended may require two-thirds or more for final passage.

Size of Vote

A majority vote is required for passage of a motion unless otherwise specified. Most votes are voice votes, the results determined by the Moderator.

Any seven voters may challenge the ruling of the chair on a voice vote. The Moderator will then call for a standing vote. This action must be taken immediately after the Moderator declares the vote result. A standing vote simply means a visual counting of "yes" or "no" votes by raised hands. These votes are counted by Tellers, registered voters in attendance who com forward and are sworn in by the Town Clerk to count the vote.

Some motions require a two-thirds vote for passage. Included in this category are votes which authorize borrowing, property transfers, and zoning bylaw changes. A few motions require even higher levels of affirmative vote for passage.

Reconsideration

Groton allows a motion for reconsideration, but only under specific conditions spelled out in Section 81-5 of the Town Code:

At any Annual or Special Town Meeting, no motion to reconsider shall be made at the initial or an adjourned session except by the affirmative vote of two-thirds (2/3) of the voters present and voting.

(In addition, the Moderator also requires that a voter who has voted on the prevailing side of the question must put the question to reconsider.)

A motion to reconsider requires a second, may not interrupt a speaker, is debatable to the same extent as the motion being reconsidered, and requires a majority vote irrespective of the size of vote required for passage of the motion to be considered.

Ballot Voting

While all voting takes place for Town government at Town Meeting, ballot voting does exist in Groton for these occasions:

Local, State, National elections. To decide of express the sense of the Meeting on certain major issues before the Town. Funding for expenditures approved at Annual or Special Town Meeting that go beyond the levy limit; these require an override, a capital outlay exclusion, or a debt exclusion.

The levy limit is a restriction on the amount of property tax a community may levy. Under state law (Proposition 2 1/2), a community may not increase taxes more that 2 1/2% over the previous year's levy (plus the value of any new growth that has occurred in the Town) and may not levy more than 2 1/2% of the total full and fair cash value of all taxable real and personal property in the community.

An override asks the town to approve a permanent increase in the levy limit of a community.

A capital outlay exclusion asks the town to approve a temporary increase over the levy limit to raise funds for the cost of a specific capital project.

A debt exclusion asks the town to add to the levy limit an amount equal to the annual debt service for a specific capital project; the increase continues only for the life of the debt.

Citizens who organize to influence the outcome of a ballot vote must register with the Town Clerk, account for any money they raise, and file reports according to rules established by the State Office of Campaign and Political Finance.

Annual Town Election

Groton's Annual Town Election is held on the fourth Tuesday following the first session of the Spring Town Meeting, and is considered part of the meeting. This usually falls in the third week of May. The Election is called on the same warrant as the Spring Town Meeting. All multiple member elected offices have an open seat at each election. Questions to the voters will also appear on the town ballot as required.

Regional School Districts

Groton belongs to two Regional School Districts: the two-town Groton-Dunstable Regional School District and the seven-town Nashoba Valley Technical High School District (Chelmsford, Groton, Littleton, Pepperell, Shirley, Townsend, and Westford). School assessments are part of the annual budget and are voted upon by the Town Meeting in the towns that make up the District. If the results of the votes in the towns differ, the question is returned to the town voting "no"; a second "no" vote in that town requires a joint meeting of the towns unless the difference is otherwise resolved.

Override and debt exclusion questions for the school districts are also decided by ballot vote. Borrowing for the schools is approved when two-thirds of the District School Committee members vote to incur the debt. Once the District School Committee votes to incur debt, the towns must act within 60 days to approve or disapprove. Approval is automatic if no action is taken by the towns. The ballot vote to authorize a debt exclusion question may be held either before or after the Town Meeting at which the borrowing article is considered. The Town Meeting vote appropriates the money; the ballot vote approves the debt exclusion or override.

For local elections, the ballot vote is held on the third Monday following the beginning of the Spring ATM. The polling center is open from 7 AM to 8 PM.

Voter Registration

Residents may register to vote at the Town Clerk's office in Town Hall in Groton or at any other place designated by State law. You may vote only in the town you choose as your official place of residence. Voters must be registered to vote for Annual Town Meetings the 20th day before the meeting and 10 days before a Special Town Meeting. To vote in a special election, voters must be registered 20 days before the election. On the last day, the registrars of voters must hold a registration session lasting at least from 9 AM to 8 PM. Once registered, you are always registered unless you move to another town. However, failure to respond to the Census could cause you name to be placed on the inactive voting list by requirement of the office of Secretary of State. Special registration dates are announced by the Town Clerk.

Miscellaneous Matters

The tables in the lobby are reserved for material voters will need for the Meeting, such as copies of motions, the Finance Committee Report, the Warrant, and similar materials. Within the limits of available space, persons wishing to distribute materials relating to matters to be considered at the Meeting may place copies on the tables. People wishing to distribute information usually contact the Selectmen's office first. Sufficient copies must be provided for all voters who attend the Meeting. Individual distribution of materials, signing of petitions, and similar activities must be done outside the lobby space, in order to permit orderly check-in of voters and efficient distribution of materials needed for the Meeting.

In addition to Town Meeting, Groton's municipal government is made up of almost a hundred officials and committees, of which approximately 75 are appointed by the Board of Selectmen. A few positions are appointed by the Moderator. Together, these officials conduct the business of the Town on a day-to-day basis, providing administrative, public health and safety, financial, utility, recreation, and other services.

Other Sources of Information About Town Government

Directory of Town Officials and Committees Committee Handbook Town Report (printed annually)

These materials are available at the Town Clerk's office in Town Hall.

Broadcast

ATM and STM are taped either for live broadcast on local Groton access cable channel 17 or for delayed viewing.

Refreshments

Refreshments are made available at Town Meetings by various civic groups in town as a fundraising event for that group. Those interested in providing refreshments should contact the Board of Selectmen's office prior to a Town Meeting.