The Arlington Select Board, demonstrating efficiency and allowing its officials to attend Town Meeting held soon thereafter, met for 30 minutes Monday evening. Beginning at 7 p.m., Chair Stephen W. DeCourcey led the hybrid meeting attended by members Lenard Diggins, Eric Helmuth, John Hurd and Diane Mahon. In that short timeframe they recommended approval of two articles expected to be heard Wednesday evening at Special Town Meeting.

The board unanimously voted for favorable action after discussing Special Town Meeting Article 4: Disposition of Real Estate/Acton Street.

Sara Suarez, the town's assistant director of planning and community development, explained the history and significance of this small lot. In 1963, Arlington extended Acton Street to connect with Appleton Street, which resulted in an orphaned strip of land facing Ottoson Middle School and adjacent to the church that later became St. Athanasius. At the time, the church requested to cross over this town-owned land to access its parking lot, which the town granted. 

“There have been subsequent discussions about the town’s land since 1970, and there is renewed interest at this time because the church is in the process of selling its rear parcel along Acton Street and Appleton Place, which is bordered by the town’s land,” explained Suarez. 

The property is 5,000 square feet and has an unusual shape. “This is an unbuildable lot on its own,” said Suarez. “It could be considered more valuable considering that the adjacent land is now for sale.”

The board’s favorable action on this article is the first step in the process. After Town Meeting, assuming that it is approved there -- as Town Meeting's vote is the authoritative/definitive one -- it still must be presented at an Arlington School Committee meeting. If declared surplus by the committee, it will need to come back to the Select Board. 

Update on fossil-fuel-free bylaw waiver

The Board moved to adopt an update to the guidance on a waiver form regarding the town's fossil-fuel-free bylaw; the previous draft was presented April 8. Starting May 21, interested applicants must provide a detailed cost comparison, including available rebates and credits, and a narrative, describing why they believe that the desired project would be commercially unviable due to the additional cost and/or delays associated with fossil-fuel-free equipment or electrical service upgrades.

After the initial presentation, the board recommended clarifying the definition of “commercially unviable,” using a new phrase: “substantial financial hardship.” Helmuth, who played a part in asking for this change, said that it “strikes a balance between being more specific but not too specific.” 

 In other business, the board: 
    • Planned to state at Special Town Meeting its vote of "no report" on Special Town Meeting Article 5: Resolution for a Ceasefire Proclamation. Endorsed by the town's Human Rights Commission, Special Town Meeting Article 5 seeks an immediate permanent ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war, release of all hostages and related measures; the commission voted 8-1 to support this on April 24. This is almost certainly the most controversial of any given article for either regular Town Meeting or Special Town Meeting this month, with many town residents having strong views either in favor or in opposition.
    • Approved giving Town Meeting a recommendation in favor of Special Town Meeting Article 2, which is about Poet Laureate Screening Committee membership;
    • Approved minutes of the Select Board meeting of April 8; 
    • Approved a request for a special (one-day) beer and wine license on June 19 at Robbins Memorial Town Hall for a private event. 
How to learn more

Reads the texts of all five Special Town Meeting articles here >>

ACMi typically broadcasts public meetings in real time here >> 

These recordings usually are posted on YouTube within 48 hours.

April 25, 2024: 2024 Town Meeting Information

This account was published Tuesday, May 7, 2024.

This reporting demonstrates your donations at work to support democracy here.YourArlington is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.Your contributions are tax-deductible.