Special Town Meeting kicks off in Sharon at 7 p.m. tonight, and to help highlight what's to be voted upon, Sharon Patch is here to give readers a breakdown of the 14 warrant articles.
"It's a fairly diverse warrant," said Sharon Town Administrator Ben Puritz.
For several articles in the warrant, the Sharon Finance Committee was unable to make recommendations, as it lacked information needed for full deliberations and votes, according to the Warrant Article document posted to the town's website. While several factors led to that outcome, the most significant was the insufficient lead time between the Sept. 4 decision to hold a Special Town Meeting and the Dec. 3 date for the meeting itself, according to the document.
Below is a brief roundup of articles to be discussed at Town Meeting and what would be involved should they be approved. For full information on each article, and to see the FinCom's recommendation, refer to the Special Town Meeting Warrant Article document.
Article 1 - Proposed Layout of Johnson Drive
Approval of this article would allow Sharon to accept a proposed layout of the road, which is currently an unnamed and unused roadway right of way, then subsequently abandon the layout. The Town would also abandon a portion of an existing unused right-of-way layout on file with Norfolk County for the old High Plain Street.
Article 2 - Amendment of Zoning Map of Sharon
If approved, the article would rezone the following parcels from Rural District 1 to Light Industrial Zoning:
- Assessor’s Parcel 123-3, containing approximately 0.66 acres of land, known as 2R General Edwards Highway.
- Assessor’s Parcel 123-3-3, containing approximately 7.44 acres of land, located off Old Post Road.
- Assessor’s Parcel 123-4, containing approximately 0.11 acres of land, located off High Plain Street.
- Assessor’s Parcel 123-5, containing approximately 0.59 acres of land, located off High Plain Street.Assessor’s Parcel 123-6, containing approximately 0.94 acres of land, located off High Plain Street.
- Assessor’s Parcel 76-4, containing approximately 7.60 acres of land, located off General Edwards Highway.
Article 3 - Amendment of Sharon General By-Laws, Article 12
If approved, the article would allow the town to amend Sharon's sign by-law to use the same signage requirements and allowances to are provided for under the Business District D Zoning By-Laws within the Light Industrial Zoning District, which is an area of Sharon along parts of Rte. 1 and I-95. An approved article would allow for outdoor billboards within this district to have the same parameters and restrictions that were created for Business District D Zoning District, other wise known as Sharon Commons.
Article 4 - Appropriation of Money from Community Preservation Fund for Rehabilitation of Sacred Heart Property
If passed, this article would allow the town to appropriate approximately $315,000 for the demolition of the existing Sacred Heart building and engage a consultant to design a recreational area for the property. The current building has been abandoned for more than 20 years and was previously abated of hazardous materials in anticipation of demolition.
Article 5 - Appropriate of Funds for Reconstruction of High School Track
If passed, the article would allow the town to raise and appropriate $165,000 for renovations at the existing athletic track at Sharon High School, which was installed in 1997 by Cape & Island Track. A consultant engaged by the Sharon School Committee concluded that replacing the entire track would not be economical, and the cause for damages to the track appeared to be due to poorly vented track surface, as well as excess water pressure and a poor asphalt bond to the original track.
Article 6 - Amendment of Zoning By-Laws for Special Permit Granting Authority
If passed, the article would change the special permit granting authority in Districts A (Sharon Center) and C (the Wilbur School District) to be the Sharon Planning Board. Currently, the board is the site plan approval authority and zoning board of appeals is the special permit granting authority.
Article 7 - Improvement in Consistency of Zoning By-Laws
If approved the article would allow the town to make changes to the Sharon's zoning by-laws relative to the Post Office Square design guidelines, clarifying and making consistent the wording in nine locations. All changes are considered technical and not substantive.
Article 8 - Amendment of General By-Laws
If approved, the article would eliminate inconsistencies and fix errors in the town's existing by-laws and tables of fines. There are no increases to existing fines, nor are there any new fines being authorized under the article, according to the Warrant Article Document.
Article 9 - Naming of Area Bordering South Main Street
Approval of the article would allow the town to name a piece of land in honor of First Sergeant James A. Keating, a Sharon native and American hero who served in the European Theatre of World War II, earning a Silver Star for heroism in battle after he saved the life of a fellow soldier under heavy fire from the enemy.
Article 10 - Adoption of Resolution to the U.S. Constitution
The article aims to amend a portion of the U.S. Constitution to establish two principals:
- That only human beings, and not artificial entities, such as corporations, are entitled to the rights and privileges guaranteed by the Constitutions.
- That election spending is not free speech guaranteed by the first amendment, and is subject to regulation by federal and state governments.
Approval of the article would adopt the resolution of the principles that contradict the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in the Citizens United vs. FEC case, which declared that corporations have speech rights under the First Amendment and that limiting a corporation's ability to spend money for election speech is unconstitutional.
Editor's Note: Letters regarding this issue were sent to Sharon Patch from Sharon resident Paul Lauenstein and Sara Brady of MassVOTE.
Article 11, 12 & 13 - Citizen Petition: Mercury Amalgam Use
If approved, the article would have a non-binding effect on the Federal Government, but would direct Sharon by calling on the Sharon Board of Selectmen and other local boards and committees to encourage local residents to learn about, and participate in, programs concerning risks, issues and alternatives to mercury amalgam in dentistry. The article would also authorize the town to call on President Barack Obama to direct the Federal Food and Drug Administration to follow certain recommendations of an advisory panel that would restrict the use of mercury amalgam in dentistry.
Sharon resident Laura Henze Russell will present her view of the matter at Special Town Meeting.
If approved, the article would add a new Article 41 to the town's General By-Laws, to be enforced by the Sharon Board of Health, to require all dental practices in Sharon to post a specific warning concerning dental amalgam containing mercury and require dentists to have their patients sign an informed consent form when the product is used.
If approved, the article would direct the Sharon Board of Selectmen and School Committee to request quotes for a plan that would provide the same percentage coverage for non-mercury amalgam dental fillings as provided for mercury amalgam fillings, and offer employees alternative dental plans providing such coverage.
Article 14 - Adoption As Public Way
Approval of this pro-forma article would enable the town to accept responsibility for the maintenance and care of Cattail Lane, making it a public way.