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Town Meeting Defeats 'Accessory Apartments' Article

A recap of Town Meeting's third session on Monday.

After a slow start last week, Town Meeting got rolling Monday, as members addressed 17 articles, including one on “accessory apartments” and three on the meeting itself.

Members have now taken up 25 of the meeting’s 72 articles through three sessions, leaving 47 to go when they reconvene at 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 2, in .

“Accessory Apartments”

On Monday, members picked up right where they left off, debating Article 8, a zoning bylaw amendment that would have allowed “accessory apartments,” or small, contained apartments in single-family-home districts by special permit, had it not been defeated.

After debating the article for about an hour last Wednesday, April 25, members did so again for about 20 minutes on Monday before the vote was taken. The article, which required a two-thirds majority, appeared to not even get a simple majority during the voice vote.

The article, put forth by the Redevelopment Board, was intended to give longtime residents, particularly elderly residents, an additional revenue stream to help them pay their mortgage/bills and ultimately keep them in their homes.

However, many opposing members said, in practice, the article would have abolished Arlington’s single-family-home residential districts.

“[This article] is one of the worst ideas to come before Town Meeting in all of my time here,” John Worden, a 43-year veteran of Arlington Town Meeting, said last Wednesday.

Town Meeting Procedures

After about a half hour of debate Monday, members voted to keep Town Meeting sessions from 8 to 11 p.m., rejecting Article 16, which would have shifted the sessions to 7 to 10 p.m. Members also defeated an amendment for 7:30 p.m. start times.

Later, members approved Article 20, 125-59, in a standing vote. The article, put forth by member Carl Wagner, reduces the amount of time members have to first speak on an article from 10 to seven minutes. Members’ follow-up comments can still go five minutes.

Members also approved Article 22, which forms a seven-member committee, appointed by the Town Moderator, to look into electronic voting at Town Meeting. The article was inserted by member Eric Helmuth.

Other Business

Members also approved articles 11, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, 28 and 30 unanimously or near unanimously Monday with little or no discussion. They also supported the Board of Selectmen’s recommended votes of no action on articles 15, 21, 23, 24 and 26.

Articles 14, 25, 27 and 29 were postponed to upcoming sessions.

Meeting Notes

  • A student delegation and representatives from Arlington’s sister city of Nagaokakyo, Kyoto, Japan, were received by Town Meeting.

Past Coverage of Town Meeting 2012

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