Fall Town Meeting Monday October 19, 2009 7:30pm
Early Learning Center Auditorium
Dear Residents of the Town of Sutton:
I am writing to provide some background on the FY2010 Fall Town Meeting articles sponsored by the Board of Selectmen.
This article is a request to reduce appropriations from the FY2010 budget originally approved at the FY2010 May Town Meeting. These reductions in appropriations in the amount of $163,769 are a result of cuts in State Aid that took place after Spring Town Meeting was held on May 11th, 2009. The Town and the School department have planned on these cuts since they were announced in June. A significant amount of these reductions are the result of positions being frozen including the Vice-Principal position at the High School, the Planning Department clerk and a Council on Aging Clerk. These reductions are necessary to balance our budget for FY2010. While these cuts balance our FY2010 budget for now, we are still awaiting news from the
State on whether additional cuts in State Aid may be coming for this fiscal year.
This article creates a Hawkers and Peddlers bylaw and was originally requested by Police Chief Dennis Towle in an effort to have some controls over door to door salespeople. This bylaw mirrors Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 101 and includes a provision that door to door salespeople first obtain a license from the Board of Selectmen prior to selling in the Town.
Article 3 sponsored by the Board of Selectmen is a request to borrow $280,000, through a debt exclusion vote, for the purpose of becoming a co-holder, with the State of Massachusetts, of an Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR) on 314 acres of land currently owned by Whittier Farms Inc. APR is a voluntary program that offers an alternative to owners of farmland who choose to see the property protected rather than sell it for development. The APR program offers to pay farmland owners the difference between the "fair market value" and the "agricultural value" of their property in exchange for a permanent deed restriction that prevents the land from ever being developed for anything other than a farm purpose. The Whittiers are seeking
the APR for 378 acres of land: 314 acres on Town Farm Road and Douglas Road in Sutton and 64 acres in Oxford.
The State Department of Agriculture has determined that the Town’s share to co-hold the APR is 10% of the State’s acquisition price. A special election is planned for Tuesday November 24th, 2009 for the voters to consider the debt exclusion of $280,000. If Town Meeting does not support this article or the voters turn down the debt exclusion then the Whittier’s will have the option of withdrawing from the APR agreement with the State and not protecting the 314 acres in Sutton.
Article number 4 authorizes the Board of Selectmen to purchase for $24,000 approximately 5-6 acres of land located at 150 Town Farm Rd, currently owned by Whittier Farms Inc, for the purpose of installing a cell tower. The article further authorizes the Board of Selectmen to lease the property for the purpose of cellular and public safety communications. The property in question is located at the highest point in Town at an elevation of approximately 830 feet. Town bylaws restrict the locations of cell towers to Commercial and Industrial property or Town owned land held in the care and custody of the Board of Selectmen. Our goal is to construct a cell tower that will help address the lack of cell phone coverage in West Sutton and generate revenue from
Cell carriers that will be used towards the debt service on $280,000 borrowed to pay for the APR on the Whittier’s property. The Town will need to vote annually at Town meeting to use revenues from the cell tower to offset the debt service from the debt exclusion vote.
The sale of the 5-6 acres to the Town is contingent upon passage of the APR at Town Meeting and passage of the Debt Exclusion vote on the APR. In addition, in the Purchase and Sales agreement between the Town and the Whittier’s property there is a reversion clause that calls for the property to revert back to the Whittier’s or their heirs, if after a minimum of 20 years the Town no longer is using the 5-6 acres for a Cell Tower or Cellular communications.
This Article would authorize a member of the Board of Selectmen to serve on the Sutton School’s Superintendent Screening Committee. The Town Charter requires Town Meeting approval for a member of the Board of Selectmen to serve on another Town committee.
James A. Smith