Ch-ch-Changes: All 'Ayes' on Climate Change, Solar, Electronic Voting
In its second session Lexington’s annual Town Meeting on Wednesday voted to adopt a climate change resolution, allow for municipal solar installations, update a bylaw and introduce electronic voting as an option.
For a town well known for its rich history, Lexington’s annual Town Meeting was fairly forward thinking Wednesday night, approving a handful of articles that could impact the town and its government for years to come.
In four separate votes, Town Meeting approved warrant articles 33, 29, 34 and 32, which deal with climate change, solar energy, zoning and electronic voting, respectively.
ARTICLE 33: Climate Change Resolution
Sustainable Lexington’s Mark Sandeen asked, How many 100-year storms will Lexington have over 18 months?
The question was rhetorical, of course, and Sandeen went on to click through slides showing damage from Hurricane Irene, Snowtober, Superstorm Sandy and the Winter Storm Sometimes Known as Nemo. And then, for good measure, he showed one from the “Floods of 2010.”
The Climate Change Resolution itself simply asked that the town move toward “making Lexington a truly sustainable community” by including climate change considerations in all of its decisions and planning processes and ttaking actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
It passed easily.
ARTICLE 29: Solar Contracting Bylaw
This article sought to amend a bylaw dealing with contracts and deeds in order to provide flexibility in negotiating the installing of solar energy facilities and the purchasing of solar electricity.
Discussing the proposal, Dan Voss, chairman of the Solar Energy Task Force, said his committee’s work determined there was opportunity to utilize solar installations on municipal buildings as a way to save money and reduce carbon emissions.
A solar installation on the DPW Building could generate up to 250 kilowatt hours, according to Voss. Add select schools and the solar potential increases to 2.6 megawatts and savings of up to $2 to 4 million over 20 years.
The proposal picked up support from a few town boards, several Town Meeting members and three third-graders from Estabrook Elementary School, who spoke individually in favor of exploring municipal solar opportunities and then as a trio recited Dr. Seuss’ famous quote from “The Lorax”:
Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not.
The article passed, unanimously.
ARTICLE 34: Zoning Bylaw Amendment
With the revisions proposed in Article 34, the Planning Board’s objectives were to resolve irregularities with state and case law, address internal inconsistencies and recodify and streamline the bylaw to improve readability, explained Richard Canale, the board’s chairman.
After Planning Board member Charles Hornig Mark Bobrowski, an attorney and land use expert, walked through the proposed changes, Town Meeting approved the amendments by more than the necessary two-thirds majority.
ARTICLE 32: Electronic Voting
Somewhat ironically, it was one of Lexington’s youngest Town Meeting members spoke against Article 32, while a handful of the more experienced members said they would welcome electronic voting as an option.
The proposal, brought forward by new Selectman Joe Pato—who agreed to table the article for a few months at the close of a special Town Meeting last fall—was to add electronic voting as an option at Town Meeting, with a secondary objective of cleaning up some of the bylaw’s existing language around voting.
Supporters said the benefits of electronic voting would include speeding up counted votes (whether standing or roll-call) and hold Town Meeting members more accountable to their constituents by creating an electronic record of votes and attendance.
However, Noah Kaufman, a Town Meeting member from Precinct 8, saw things a little differently.
Kaufman said when living in a world where technology is ubiquitous—and in which any minute he can be called, emailed, Facebook messaged, tweeted at, Skyped, friended, unfriended and even poked—he enjoys participating in Town Meeting where voice and standing votes still work.
But Kaufman was in the minority, and Town Meeting easily approved Article 32.
Lexington’s 2013 annual Town Meeting will reconvene at 7:30 p.m. next Wednesday, March 27, at Cary Hall after taking next Monday off or Passover.