Bills for property taxes will go out quarterly
Zoning changes, higher false alarm fines OK’d
By Aaron Nicodemus TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF
SUTTON— Taxpayers will receive their property tax bills four times a year, rather than twice a year, under a change approved by town meeting Monday night.
Currently, taxpayers receive a property tax bill on Nov. 1 and May 1 under a semi-annual billing system. Starting Aug. 1, the town will convert to a quarterly tax billing system. Tax bills will be mailed Aug. 1, Nov. 1, Feb. 1 and May 1.
In switching from a semiannual to quarterly tax billing system, the town will be able to avoid some short-term borrowing because its cash flow will be more consistent, according to Town Administrator James A. Smith.
“It’s a significant change, and we’re going to be working hard to get the word out to people,” he said.
The majority of the town’s taxpayers pay their tax bill through an escrow account handled by their bank or mortgage holder, and the town will be notifying lenders of the coming change. Other homeowners who pay their own taxes will be notified by the town of the change, he said.
In other business, town meeting members approved increased fees for false fire and burglar alarms. The town currently charges nothing for the first three false alarms, and that will not change. On the fourth false alarm, the fine will increase from $25 to $100; on the fifth false alarm, the fine will increase from $50 to $200; and each subsequent false alarm will bring a fine of $200.
Mr. Smith said the hope is that businesses and residents whose alarms continue to malfunction will address the problem, with the higher fines as incentive to fix their alarms. If not, the higher fines will bear some of the cost of the response.
Town meeting also approved a host of zoning changes, including changes to regulations on gas stations and transportation services. The regulations will require any proposal for a gas station to receive a special permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals, as well as going through site plan approval with the Planning Board. Wording that supported the use of “other transportation services,” such as a truck stop, would be struck from the town’s bylaws. This would outlaw a proposal such as the one made last year for a truck stop in South Sutton.
The requirements for continued care retirement communities changed as well. In response to a 200-plus-unit retirement community proposed for Armsby Road, the new regulations limit the size of any structure in such a proposal to 25,000 square feet, and increase the distance between buildings from the current 25 feet, to 75 feet.
Other changes passed include making clearer the maximum height of a building in town, to between 30 and 35 feet high, depending on the zone. Currently, the regulations define height in terms of number of stories, and in feet.Other measures passed require a special permit for kennels in agriculturally zoned areas in town, and create expedited permitting of 180 days for a parcel in South Sutton, adjacent to Route 146 on the Sutton-Douglas line.
One article on the 28-article warrant that did not pass was a citizen’s petition to rezone a parcel on the Millbury-Sutton line from industrial to business.