Town Meeting Roundup

The Annual Town Meeting is approaching Brookline at the end of May.

While the agenda for the upcoming Town Meeting may seem like a slew of tax distribution and budgeting, there are some hints at upcoming developments. Cleveland Circle may get a makeover and Bloody Marys may be on the restaurant menus at Sunday brunch before noon. As a bonus, you may not have to shovel your sidewalk next winter. Here’s the breakdown of all 23 articles to be discussed on May 24. 

Article 1: Measurers of Wood and Bark

  • Two Measurers of Wood and Bark will be appointed as a tradition.

Article 2: Collective Bargaining Agreements and Salaries

  • Yes Vote Means: The town will fund various unions without contracts and pass salary increases for town employees.
  • No Vote Means: Voters may not approve some of the unions’ collective bargaining agreements, and there may not be salary increases across the town.

Article 3: Compensating Balance Agreements

  • Yes vote means: The Town Treasurer can enter into agreements between banks and patrons who agree to waive interest deposits in exchange for other bank services. This will be accounted for in the town budget and it is addressed at town meetings.
  • No vote means: Compensating Balance Agreements will not be added to the town budget.

Article 4: Special Appropriations

  • Yes vote means: More than $3 million would be taken out of the budget, Deputy Town Administrator Sean Cronin said.
  • No vote means: The town would make different changes to the budget.

Article 5: Unpaid Bills

  • Yes vote means: The town will pay any unpaid bills from. They must use funds left over from prior years’ budgets do so.
  • No vote means: These unpaid bills would otherwise remain unresolved. Selectmen must approve the use of last year’s funds for this purpose at a Town Meeting.

Article 6: Property Tax Exemptions

  • Yes vote means: The town will raise property tax exemptions for widows, the elderly, the blind and disabled veterans. This has been approved at town meetings for more than 20 years.
  • No vote means: Property tax exemptions will stay the same for specialized classes.

Article 7: Elderly Tax Exemption

  • Yes vote means: The elderly tax exemption will benefit more people with fewer restrictions. People would be eligible at age 65 instead of 70, and the caps on their income and assets would increase drastically. With rising costs of living and real estate, this would make it easier for the elderly to live independently and affordably.
  • No vote means: Only people aged 70 and older with less than $13,000 in income and other requirements would be eligible for the elderly tax exemption.

Article 8: Budget Adjustments

  • Yes vote means: Last-minute adjustments will be made to the fiscal year 2011 budget, if there are any.
  • No vote means: The fiscal year 2011 budget will stay as is.

Article 9: Next Year’s Budget

  • Yes vote means: The town will approve budget items for fiscal year 2012, including more than $2 million on fixing streets and sidewalks. There is also a heavy focus on renovations of several of the town’s playgrounds.
  • No vote means: Voters may modify some of the budget items for fiscal year 2012.

Article 10: Lawrence Local Historic District

  • Yes vote means: The neighborhood surrounding Lawrence school will be named as a historic district, as outlined in a map provided by the town.
  • No vote means: The neighborhood will remain as is. It is not currently a historic district.

Article 11: Snow Removal from Sidewalks

  • Yes vote means: In addition to the streets, the town would sand sidewalks in residential neighborhoods to melt snow and ice during the winter.
  • No vote means: Public works would only take care of roads covered in snow and ice as they do now.

Article 12: Cleveland Circle Renovation

  • Yes vote means: Zoning recommendations will be made for a possible hotel, restaurant and shopping area will in an effort to rebuild Cleveland Circle. Much of the property is in Boston, not Brookline.
  • No vote means: Some of the provisions may be changed, but they appear to be so detailed, it seems unlikely the project would be completely nixed.

Article 13: Extended Stay in Hotels

  • Yes vote means: The hotel to potentially be built in Cleveland Circle could not allow stays longer than 90 days.
  • No vote means: The law would not specify restrictions on extended stay in Cleveland Circle hotels.

Article 14: Davis Path

  • Yes vote means: Zoning requirements will be changed to help neighbors welcome new developers to the area near Boylston Street.
  • No vote means: Voters may request some of the items be changed.

Article 15: Davis Path Provisions for Neighbors

  • Yes vote means: The length of a backyard will be redefined in the area surrounding Davis Path, in order to give neighbors more space from a potential development.
  • No vote means: The definitions of a backyard would stay as is, and if a potential business were to come into the area, neighbors may feel their space is limited.

Article 16: Traffic Visibility

  • Yes vote means: If you have a front yard, you can’t have any plants, fences or other items taller than 30 inches. This is meant to help drivers and prevent blind spots. In special cases, taller fences will be allowed.
  • No vote means: The exception for taller fences would not be allowed, even in cases of necessity. And drivers would be more susceptible to blind spots throughout town.

Article 17: Bloody Marys at Brunch

  • Yes vote means: Restaurants may sell alcohol on Sunday mornings beginning at 10 a.m. The law would also extend to Memorial Day and Christmas Day.
  • No vote means: Restaurants would only be able to only sell alcohol after noon on Sunday.

Article 18: Honoring Michael and Kitty Dukakis

  • Yes vote means: A plan to create a statue, monument or named property would be approved to honor the work of Brookline natives, former Governor Michael Dukakis and his wife, Kitty Dukakis.
  • No vote means: A tribute to Michael and Kitty Dukakis would not be put into place at this time.

Article 19: Traffic Calming Resolution

  • Yes vote means: The Design Review Committee will be reshaped with different types of members to help alleviate heavy traffic in specific neighborhoods. There may be separate committees for separate projects.
  • No vote means: Traffic problems may worsen if committees are not formed with special attention to the problem areas.

 Article 20: Resolution Against Political Robocalls

  • Yes vote means: The town would actively encourage representative and senators to outlaw telemarketed campaign phone calls from Massachusetts politicians.
  • No vote means: You’ll continue to get those pesky phone calls every election season.

Article 21: Norfolk County

  • Yes vote means: Brookline, an island outside the rest of Norfolk County, would stop paying $700,000 to the County every year. Officials say this is an inappropriate amount considering the few services they get. They would still remain part of Norfolk County as a namesake.
  • No vote means: Brookline would continue to pay 13% of the County’s tax revenue, even though it is one of 28 towns in Norfolk County.

Article 22: Surface Water Drainage

  • Yes vote means: The town will pay the MBTA more than $25,000 for  a drain that was installed in 2003 at Brookline Village Station. They have been negotiating with the MBTA since then.
  • No vote means: Negotiations would continue. This has been discussed at past town meetings but the MBTA would not accept smaller negotiations.

Article 23: Additional reports will be read from town officers and committee members.

With the passage of these by-laws, the town will see a major focus on traffic and transportation in the next year. And residents may see business openings near Davis Path and Cleveland Circle. The public is welcome to the Town Meeting on May 24.


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