SAVE-THE-DATE for the Annual Town Meeting on May 11, 2021, as more information and plans for the meeting come together, information will be posted here.
The schedule to submit warrant articles is below:
UPDATE Special Fall Town Meeting
20 Williams Street, Longmeadow, MA 01106
Tel. (413) 565-4110 l Fax (413) 565-4112
For Immediate Release: December 9, 2020
Longmeadow Special Town Meeting Convened and Dissolved
LONGMEADOW (Dec. 9, 2020) – At the Special Town Meeting held at 8:00AM today at the Greenwood Center Parking Lot, 13 voters voted unanimously in favor of a motion, as an emergency measure for the immediate preservation of peace, health, safety or convenience of the town, to take no action on articles 1-23, by consent. This was followed immediately by a motion to dissolve the Special Town Meeting, which also was unanimously approved. The meeting lasted one minute. The Select Board anticipates taking these articles up in the Annual 2021 Town Meeting.
Longmeadow occasionally holds special meetings in the fall; not every town has a fall town meeting; some roll those issues into the annual meeting. The Special Town Meeting was set for Oct. 27. When cases of COVID-19 began to rise in Longmeadow, the Moderator consulted with public health and safety officials, the Select Board, and Town Manager, and issued a Declaration of Recess and Continuance for 30 days (the maximum the law allows) and observed in it that as long as COVID remained an increasing threat, she did not anticipate holding any meetings when they could not be held safely. The Finance Director and Town Manager deemed nothing on the warrant was to be critical. Another Declaration was issued, indicating more were likely to come given the public health crisis.
On November 18, the Massachusetts Department of Revenue informed Longmeadow Select Board/Town Manager’s office that they would not certify our Town’s tax rate while a town meeting with financial articles was pending. The Moderator and Town Manager sought every avenue to address this situation. Ultimately, however, the only viable option open would be to convene and dissolve the Special Town Meeting.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health strongly recommended that select boards and moderators choose to lower quorums if they must have a town meeting. Concerned that the quorum for our meetings is 50, and concerned that voters had every reasonable expectation, given the previous declarations, that the town would not be gathering people together to deliberate and vote on these issues, the Moderator worked with the Town Manager and Select Board to reach a compromise proposal to reduce the quorum for this meeting and “take no action” on all articles. The Finance Committee unanimously approved this approach. The Planning Board unanimously voted to continue their hearing on zoning articles, meaning no motions to take action on those articles would be legal.
The Moderator adds that “The legislative branch and the executive branch of our local government cooperated to solve a technical problem in a way that did not endanger citizens and preserved their rights to deliberate and vote when it is safer to do so. I am grateful that citizens understood the challenges we faced and did what was necessary to preserve public health. The trust demonstrated in the efforts today is heartening. It’s a challenging time, and I am grateful to our town for rising to this challenge. Please, continue to stay safe, and have a peaceful holiday season.”
Town residents should continue with physical distancing and mask-wearing. Officials will begin planning for the 2021 Annual Town Meeting (to be set for late spring) in January. Longmeadow voters who have questions about town meeting may contact the Moderator at email@example.com.
The Fall Special Town Meeting will be held on Tuesday, October 27, 2020. The warrant has closed and a copy is available here. There are 23 warrant articles including 2 citizen petitions. The Fall Special Town Meeting will be held at Longmeadow High School and begins at 7PM. A mask will be required to attend and socially distanced seating will be provided. For a full listing of all rules of procedure for this meeting please click here.
Annual Town Meeting was held Tuesday, June 23, 2020 at 6:00 PM
*A consent agenda is a grouping of articles together under one motion in order to save time in a meeting. When a motion to approve several articles as a consent agenda is made and seconded, the Moderator will call out the article numbers in the proposal. Any voter who wants to consider an article separately will call out “hold,” and the Moderator will remove that article from the consent agenda. Voting will proceed for the motion to approve (or reject) all the articles in the group.
Recommendations & Presentations at Town Meeting
Finance Committee -
- The Finance Committee voted to approve all of the Articles that were previously listed as "Recommendation to be given on the floor of Town Meeting"
- The Finance Committee voted to Recommend Article 14.
- The Finance Committee voted to recommend the budget Article 13, with the explicit understanding that the budget figure would immediately be Amended on the Floor by the Select Board after its reading. Finance Committee’s recommendation on the budget Article 13 will be made after the Amendment is made.
- Finance Committee voted not to recommend Article 30, dealing with CPC funding for a study for a skate park.
"The Finance Committee does not recommend Article 30.
The Finance Committee voted against recommending this article for a number of reasons. First, this expenditure represented the first step in installing a new facility, the expense of which would far exceed the price of the study itself. Second, this would be a brand new facility which would incur a brand new maintenance obligation and ongoing maintenance expenses, rather than the repair or improvement of an existing facility. Finally, the feeling of the majority of members was that unlike the team sport facilities in town, this proposed skate park would represent a niche interest, serving a relatively small number of patrons, too small to justify the expense of installing the facility."
Budget Presentation by Town Manager
Article 36 & 37 related to bylaw changes for the installation of ground-mount solar panels on the side or front of a home. Supporting documentation
New Public Discussion Tool - Community Voice
Article 1 - To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate $151,212.00, or a greater or lesser sum, from the FY 2021 Community Preservation Fund revenues for: CPA Fund Balance Reserve for Open Space $50,404.00, CPA Fund Balance Reserve for Community Housing $50,404.00, and CPA Fund Balance Reserve for Historic Preservation $50,404.00, or take any other action relative thereto. (The Community Preservation Act (CPA) requires Town Meeting to appropriate or reserve for future appropriation at least 10% of the estimated annual CPA revenue for acquisition and initiatives for each of the following three categories: Open Space, Community Housing and Historic Preservation. Approval of this article will satisfy the requirement for FY 2021. Currently, the FY 21 State matching share is estimated at 17.7% of our current year’s estimated revenues; surcharge, $407,000.00, other miscellaneous revenues $25,000.00, and State match $72,039.00)
ARTICLE 2. To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate the sum of $225.00, or a greater or lesser sum, for the purpose of paying prior year’s bills, or take any other action relative thereto. Nine-tenths vote required. It was discovered around the time the Town was closing its FY 2020 financial records that certain commitments involving training of staff had not been paid. This appropriation will allow the Town to make good on those commitments.
Consent Agenda I (to include Articles 3, 4, 5, 6, 7) ARTICLE 3. To see if the Town will vote to transfer from available funds in the Treasury, the sum of $75,000.00 or a greater or lesser sum, to the FY 2021 Operating Budget for Legal Expenses to cover costs associated with protecting the Town’s interests in the construction of a natural gas facility and site remediation at the DPW facility, or take any other action relative thereto. The Town has and will continue to hire legal experts and consultants to protect the interest in public health and safety along with pursuing legal remedies to help offset the costs associated with the cleanup of the new DPW site.
ARTICLE 4. To see if the Town will vote to transfer from available funds in the Treasury, the sum of $20,000.00, or a greater or lesser sum, to the FY 2021 Operating Budget for Human Resources Clerical Overtime $10,000.00 and Human Resources Other Expenses $10,000.00, or take any other action relative thereto. At the start of the pandemic in March of 2020 the HR Dept has been inundated with additional tasks including but not limited to: interpretation of legislation for added coronavirus benefits; Town/School furloughs, layoffs and the admin tasks associated; auditing of unemployment claims for legit and the influx of fraudulent claims: info requests and processing of FMLA and ADA requests; etc… Much of this time was spent down an employee of the 4 staff budgeted in the Dept. Clerical OT for FY20 was covered with funds resulting from a staff vacancy. The FY21 OT budget of $1,000.00 was exhausted in August. The request for Other Expense dollars is for temporary contracted help.
ARTICLE 5. To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate the sum of $108,218.00, or a greater or lesser sum, to supplement the FY 2021 Operating Budget - $1,000.00 for Retirement of Long Term Debt and $107,218.00 for Interest on Long Term, Debt, or take any other action relative thereto. The Town refinanced $11.45 million of principal from a 2011 Longmeadow High School Bond Issue. The savings amounted to over $172K in FY 2021 and over $2.24 million over the life of the refinanced debt. At the same time the Town refinanced this bond the Town also issued General Fund debt for the Wolf Swamp Fields $1.34 million, the DPW $2.41 million and for the Phase II of the land fill closing $700K. The amount appropriated above is the net amount of FY 2021 debt service, the original FY 21 budget was short covering the debt service on the new issues.
ARTICLE 6. To see if the Town will vote to transfer from available funds in the treasury the sum of $105,000.00, or a greater or lesser sum, for the purpose of paying for emergency work related to the tropical storm Isaias on August 4, 2020, or take any other action relative thereto. Tropical Storm Isaias uprooted trees, downed power lines and caused considerable damage throughout the Town. Emergency crews from Police, Fire and DPW along with the Town’s tree service contractor worked tirelessly through the storm and the following days to provide a safe community. This appropriation covers the costs of the emergency work needed.
ARTICLE 7. To see if the Town will vote to transfer from available funds in the treasury the sum of $55,000.00, or a greater or lesser sum, for the purpose of replenishing the FY 2021 Operating Budget for Forestry Trimming and Removal costs incurred from the curbside pickup of storm debris from tropical storm Isaias, or take any other action relative thereto. Massachusetts General Laws allows for deficit spending where there exists an immediate threat to persons and or property. Deficit spending resulting from tropical storm Isaias was addressed in the previous article. The Town incurred substantial additional costs within its FY 21 budget for Forestry Trimming and Removal. This appropriation supplements the FY 21 budget for those subsequent costs in order that the Town be able to continue with its regular forestry services through the fiscal year.
ARTICLE 8. To see if the Town will vote to transfer from available funds in the Treasury the sum of $100,000.00, or a greater or lesser sum, for the purpose of producing preliminary survey and design work for the possible reconstruction / reconfiguration of Longmeadow Street / Route 5, or take any other action relative thereto. In order to be considered for State funding for the reconstruction / reconfiguration of Longmeadow Street / Route 5 the Town must prepare preliminary survey and design work. This appropriation is the second $100,000.00 request of an estimated total $400,000.00 Engineering project that will allow the Town to satisfy that requirement.
ARTICLE 9. To see if the town will vote to transfer from available funds in the treasury the sum of $28,000.00, or a greater or lesser sum, for the purpose of evaluating the Department of Public Works’ operations, organizational structure, staffing, technology and overall cost effectiveness to improve services provided to the residents of the town, or take any other action relative thereto. The responsibility of the DPW includes parks, playgrounds, athletic fields, building maintenance, water, sewer, stormwater, roadwork and the public tree canopy. In the near future two new facilities and the renovation of Wolf Swamp Fields will be completed and fall under the maintenance responsibility of the DPW. To help inform the future needs of the department and ensure we are adequately staffing and allocating resources, an evaluation of the DPW’s operations, organizational structure, staffing levels and efficiency of providing services is needed.
ARTICLE 10. To see if the Town will vote to raise appropriate and / or transfer from available funds in the treasury the sum of $450,000.00, or a greater or lesser sum, to be transferred into the Operational Stabilization Fund, or take any other action relative thereto. FY21 budget directives established by the Select Board included a deposit of $250,000.00 into the Town’s Operational Stabilization. Originally this vote was to take place at the June 23, 2020. As a result of temporarily halting certain services (Crossing Guards, Council on Aging, Recreation, Library) larger than average unexpended funds were witnessed at the end of FY 20 creating a greater than normal amount of Free Cash. This amount will enhance the Town’s reserves in order to maintain / improve the Town’s current Standard and Poor’s credit rating of AA+. The Town’s General Reserve policy requires a 5–10% reserve when compared to operating revenues. The July 1, 2020 percentage is approximately 8.58%.
ARTICLE 11. To see if the Town will vote to transfer from available funds in the treasury, the sum of $300,000.00, or a greater or lesser sum, for the purpose of funding the FY 2021 budget as adopted at the June 23, 2020 Annual Town Meeting, or take any other action relative thereto. As a result of the lingering pandemic some FY 2021 revenue sources still remain uncertain – mainly the amount of State Aid the Town is to expect. This authorization may be needed in order to assist the Select Board’s / Town Manager’s / Finance Committee’s commitment of raising $311,000.00 less than the maximum amount allowed under Proposition 2 ½.
ARTICLE 12. To see if the Town will vote to rescind $182,500.00 of the $200,000.00 originally budgeted in the FY 2021 Operating Budget for Recreation - Day Care Salaries, or take any other action relative thereto. In the midst of the COVID 19 pandemic it was decided to close the Town’s Day Care operations run by the Parks and Recreation Department. State guidelines for operations at the time made it financially impossible to operate anywhere near a breakeven point. The recension of the appropriation is necessary to maintain a balanced budget because of the offsetting loss of revenue generated by the Day Care operations.
ARTICLE 13. To see if the Town will vote to revoke its acceptance of its November 27, 2007 Article #14 vote establishing a Solid Waste / Recycling Enterprise Fund under MGL Ch. 44 Section 53F½. This vote would take effect for the upcoming fiscal year beginning July 1, 2021, or take any other action relative thereto. Over the last several years the Town annually has had an audit finding regarding the accounting of the solid waste and recycling operations as an Enterprise Fund. The finding is based on the fact that the operations involved are annually more that 75% subsidized by General Fund taxation, as opposed to user fees, and therefore does meet the accounting criteria for an Enterprise Fund. This is an accounting matter only and will have no impact of the services provided to the residents of Town. The fiscal year ending June 30, 2021 will be the last fiscal year for this enterprise fund operations, thereafter the accounting will be within the General Fund.
ARTICLE 14. To see if the Town will vote to authorize the Select Board to acquire the following easements for the purpose of constructing, using and maintaining the infrastructure installations known as the North Interceptor Relocation Project (the “Project”). Total # Parcel Area (Square Feet) Temporary Easements 9 6,123 Permanent Easements 4 12,396 Further that the Select Board is authorized to acquire these easements, or modification(s) of these easements or other required interests in land for the Project through all legal means, which include, without limitation, donation(s), purchase(s), or eminent domain taking(s). The North Interceptor conveys sewage from Longmeadow St.(Springfield line) to Emerson Rd. This section of sewer is mostly inaccessible, on slope abutting I-91. It is old/in poor condition and difficult to maintain. New design moves the sewer line off piers and into backyards of the homeowners on Severn St.
ARTICLE 15. To see if the Town will vote to accept the provisions of Massachusetts General Law Chapter 64G Section 3A which deals with short-term rentals operating in the Town of Longmeadow and to set the excise tax on such rentals at 6.00%, or take any other action relative thereto. This article was approved at the May 14, 2019 Annual Town Meeting in Article 35, however through a procedural matter was never implemented by the State. This new law, MGL Chapter 64G Section 3A as amended, allows municipalities to adopt local room occupancy excise taxes up to 6.00% of total rent on short-term rentals (e.g. Airbnb, VRBO, etc…). The Town has been made aware of a growing number of homes being offered for short term rentals and wants to able to have the regulatory resources to address any impacts on the community.
ARTICLE 16. See if Town will vote to amend Section 3-303 of Gen. Bylaws of the Town (Warrants) by adding following: (c) Last Mon. in Jan. shall be the last day for filing petitions with Town Clerk (TC) for insertion of articles in Warrant for following Annual Town Meeting (ATM): and warrant shall close no later than 15 days prior to date of ATM (d) Last day for filing petitions with TC for insertion of articles into Warrant for a Special Town Meeting (STM) shall be 45 days prior to date of meeting and Warrant shall close no later than 15 days prior to date of STM (e) All petition articles that mention Federal, State, Town or other laws or refer to parcel of land or road or other pertinent information must have a copy of such law, map or pertinent information showing location of the parcel of land or roads or any other pertinent information attached to the petition article submitted to the TC. Copies of docs shall be appended to the to the printed recommendation of the Fin. Comm.
Full warrant article is too long to include here. This is the explanation of the article: The current by-law refers to the functions and duties of two distinct Town bodies; the Longmeadow Historic District Commission and the Longmeadow Historical Commission. The proposed version of by-law 2-805 contains language relating only to the Longmeadow Historic District Commission while a future proposed by-law 2-810 will contain language relating only to the Longmeadow Historical Commission. This necessary update will allow for more clarity in the by-laws relating to the functions of both commissions.
ARTICLE 18. To see if Town will vote to amend Article I, Section E. of the Zoning Bylaws of the Town by adding: ARTICLE I. ADMINISTRATION AND ENFORCEMENT SECTION E. ENFORCEMENT 6. Any violation of the provisions of the Bylaw, the conditions of a permit granted under this Bylaw, or any decision rendered by the ZBA or PB under this Bylaw shall be liable to a fine of not more than ($100.00) for each violation. The provisions of this Bylaw… be enforced, by the Building Commissioner, by non-criminal complaint pursuant to MGL, Ch 40, Sec 21D. The fine for violation disposed of through this procedure shall be ($100.00) for each offense. Unpaid fine(s) subject to the municipal charges lien pursuant to MGL. c. 40, sec. 58. 2/3 vote required. Current zoning bylaw provides for non-criminal disposition, however, if those fines go unpaid there is very little recourse to collect said fines. Adoption of MGL ch. 40, sec. 58 provides a mechanism to lien the property for those unpaid violations.
ARTICLE 19. To see if the Town will vote to amend Article II. DEFINITIONS of the Zoning Bylaws of the Town by adding the following: ARTICLE II. DEFINITIONS “Commercial Vehicle.” Any vehicle registered for commercial use which has a gross vehicle weight rating of 12,000 or more pounds, or is a van, truck, or SUV of any weight that has decals or painted lettering that represents a commercial enterprise. Or take any other action relative thereto. Two-thirds vote required. There is no definition of “commercial vehicle” in the zoning bylaw definitions. Adding a definition provides clarity and consistency in zoning compliance and enforcement.
ARTICLE 20. To see if the Town will vote to amend the Zoning Bylaws Article IV, Section E, Subsection 1(b) by deleting: If the non-conforming building is destroyed by fire, etc… to extent of 50% or more of replacement value, it shall not be rebuilt as a non-conforming building… And replacing with: If the non-conforming building is destroyed by fire, etc… to extent of 50% or more of its replacement value, it may be rebuilt on the same footprint within a 2-year time frame but future use of premises shall conform to use regulations of the zone in which located. 2/3 vote required. In reading this section as written today, if a non-conforming building was destroyed to an extent of over 50%, the building could not be rebuilt as a nonconforming building. A big % of homes in Longmeadow are non-conforming due to lack of frontage, lot size or proximity to lot lines. Banks and other lenders question this bylaw regularly and are reluctant to loan money on such properties.
ARTICLE 21. To see if Town will amend the Zoning Bylaws Article IV, Section B, Subsection 1.2(a) by deleting: Private garage, to accommodate no more than 3 automobiles. A detached garage shall be permitted in lieu of, but not in supplement to, any existing like facility. An enclosed garage must be used for the overnight storage of commercial vehicles… And replacing with: Private garage, to accommodate no more than 3 automobiles. A detached garage shall be permitted in supplement to an existing like facility, but in no case should the total number of spaces be greater than 3. An enclosed garage must be used for the overnight storage of commercial vehicles… 2/3 vote required. Current bylaw does not allow for a detached garage to supplement an existing like facility. A 3 car garage is allowed by right. Not fair that a resident with a 1 car garage cannot build a detached 2 car garage (total spaces would be 3) following conformance w/setbacks from the main structure and lot lines.
Thank you for reading this information. Anyone with questions about the meeting is welcome to contact Moderator Rebecca Townsend at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our work may be physically distant, but it’s inherently social. Our community has faced great trials before, and we shall similarly face this one with as much wisdom about what will permit safety for our democratic traditions to continue.
MODERATOR SEEKS APPLICATIONS FOR RULES COMMITTEE
Applications to volunteer for the Longmeadow Rules Committee will be accepted until July 31, 2020. The Rules Committee was established by the town Charter to advise the Moderator on issues of procedures related to Town Meeting. The committee consists of five members in staggered three-year terms. There is one vacancy for a 3-year term ending in 2023 and a vacancy for a term that ends in 2022. Longmeadow voters who have an interest in serving may complete an application, available via the town website here.