HomeAnnouncementsWhat to expect at the 2023 Annual Town Meeting

What to expect at the 2023 Annual Town Meeting


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WESTFORD — Annual Town Meeting is just over one week away, with two dozen articles up for consideration by residents.

This year, the town is offering free transportation to and from the meeting, as well as free child care on site. A food truck will be on site for meals.

Annual Town Meeting will be held at 10 a.m in the Westford Academy Gymnasium.

Article 4: Appropriate Opioid Settlement Funds

Westford will soon receive a share of a $26 billion in national settlements to combat substance abuse as state officials begin to make funds available. The town received $120,000 from the collection of settlements.

The funding will be used to fund prevention, harm reduction, treatment and recovery programs in the town.

Article 5: Approve Capital Appropriations

The town will vote on a collection of $12,534,838 in funding for a variety of projects. Funding for each project has been combined by total department request. These projects include:

  • $528,338 for the Technology Department to replace town and school computers, as well as server and storage equipment replacements.
  • $2,000,000 to supplement the funding of HVAC energy conservation improvements at the Cameron Senior Center.
  • $2,450,000 for the Fire Department to renovate, replace or add to Station 4 in Nabnasset, as well as a vehicle replacement for Tower 1.
  • $360,000 for the Public Schools to replace the front patio at Stony Brook Middle school, improve Nabnasset Elementary School’s parking lot and walking paths as well as to purchase a wide area mower and electric vehicle for the Facilities Department.
  • $1,100,000 for the Engineering Department for the Boston Road Reconstruction Project, Expanded Town Hall parking lot and the Stony Brook Bridge replacement.
  • $405,000 for the Highway Department to replace a number of vehicles.
  • $450,000 for Wastewater for the abbot Elementary School wastewater treatment plant rehabilitation.
  • $65,000 for Parks and Grounds Department for a vehicle replacement.
  • $3,411,500 for Water Enterprise to replace two vehicles – one standard and one electric – as well as conduct a pilot student for PFAS treatment. Funding will also be used for the Boston Road reconstruction project, Francis Hill water storage tank rehabilitation and the Depot Street Well Replacement.
  • $1,765,000 for Stormwater Enterprise for the construction for the Blue Brook and Pond Brook culvert replacements, the expanded Town Hall parking lot and a design for the culvert replacement on Acton Road.

Article 6: Appropriate Funding for 51 Main St. 

Residents will once again vote on whether or not to fund a new town center building located at 51 Main St. The town originally dismissed the proposal during an Oct. 18 Special Town Meeting on administrative grounds, pushing it back to Annual Town Meeting.

The original cost of the project was $12.1 million. The updated cost of the project is now $12.4 million.

The town has already spent nearly $900,000 on the project for a feasibility study as well as the design and testing of the site since 2017.

The Finance Committee originally voted unanimously to recommend the article ahead of Special Town Meeting in October. The committee voted 4-3 to recommend the article for the March 25 Annual Town Meeting.

For a median-assessed home at $660,500, the current project is estimated to cost $84 per year in fiscal year 2024 and will decline year over year.

Article 7: Blanchard MSBA Roof Replacement

Residents will vote on whether or not to approve funding to pay for a roof replacement at Blanchard Middle School. The article would appropriate $6.4 million to replace the roof.

The town may be eligible for a need-based grant from the Massachusetts School Building Authority, which may cover up to 48.05% of the project.

Historically, Westford has received between 44.5% and 45.98% from the MSBA for repairs to Abbot Elementary, Day Elementary and the Col. John Robinson School.

Article 17: Easements for Boston Road Reconstruction 

Residents will vote on whether or not to authorize the Select Board to acquire certain parcels of land abutting Boston Road and Crown road for the reconstruction project.

The proposed project includes redesigning the cross-section to include a bicycle lane and a travel lane from Main Street to the I-495 Southbound off-ramp.

The proposal also includes the addition of sidewalks along the eastern side of the road from Main Street to Blakes Hill Road, and sidewalks along the western side of the road from Blakes Hill Road to the I-495 Southbound ramps.

Construction of ADA-compliant ramps at intersections, as well as reconstruction of storm drain infrastructure, water line replacement, retaining walls and new markings are also included in the proposal.

Article 18: Change the Time of Annual Town Meeting 

Voters will vote on whether or not to change the start time of Annual Town Meeting from 10 a.m. to 9 a.m.

Article 19: Commercial Recreation Overlay

Voters will decide whether or not to amend Appendix A of the Zoning Bylaw to allow indoor and outdoor commercial recreation and winter commercial recreation in certain zoning districts by special permit from the Planning Board.

The change would primarily impact Nashoba Valley Ski Area and Kimball Farm.

The change could allow for additional recreation opportunities within the town, as well as a streamlined permitting process for future and existing recreational facilities and recreation facility proposals.

Public opinion survey from the Strategic Planning Retreat. View a commercial recreation opportunity map under the existing zoning bylaw.

Article 20: Add 7 Carl Thompson Road to Residence A Zoning District

Voters will decide whether or not to amend the Zoning Bylaw to add 7 Carl Thompson Road to the Residence A Zoning District. This article is a Citizen’s Petition.

The property abuts a number of homes on Forrest Road. Proposals for potential use of the land include an industrial business innovation center, including smaller leased offices and garages.

No proposal has been filed with the Planning Board as of March 6.

Proponents of the petition argue that rezoning of the property can result in development that is “compatible to the neighborhood, improve the community and preserve the environment.”

Attorney Melissa Robbins, representing Walter Eriksen, the owner of the property, argues the petition is “retaliatory.” She says it is a “direct repercussion for reaching out to the abutters instead of coming to the board first.”

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Ben Domaingue
Ben Domainguehttps://www.clippings.me/bendomaingue
Ben Domaingue has previously worked at newspapers in New Hampshire and is the Managing Editor covering Westford. He’s passionate about community journalism, photography and hiking. Email him at bdomaingue@westfordcat.org.

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