Natick’s 2024 Spring Annual Town Meeting warrant, packed with 31 articles, has now been posted. The Finance Committee will continue vetting articles and motions, and will issue its recommendations before Town Meeting begins in late April.
Town Meeting is technically slated to begin on Tuesday, April 23, the night after Passover begins. Though as explained at this week’s Select Board meting, due to the holiday, the expectation is that there will not be a quorum on April 25, that the meeting will be immediately adjourned, and the business of Town Meeting will really begin on Thursday, April 25 at Natick High School.
The Select Board also this week announced a Special Town Meeting to start on April 23 at Natick High School as well. Articles for that warrant must be submitted by March 11, and the focus of the meeting will be on proposed charter and bylaw changes.
The Spring Annual Town Meeting warrant includes standard items on finances, plus a variety of proposed zoning amendments (including changes to enable the town to comply with the MBTA Communities law to support multifamily housing). The big article—in this case, Article 3— is always approval of the Omnibus budget (town and school administration recently shared previewed FY25 budgets).
The warrant also includes a handful of unique items.
For example, Article 16 focuses on the transfer of the Johnson Elementary School building from the School Committee to the Select Board. The school is closing at the end of this year, and thinking has begun on what will be next for the building at 99 South Main St.
Article 18 focuses on adopting the Specialized Energy Code that includes more building requirements designed to help communities achieve net zero goals (see recent presentation to the Select Board). Wiring to support future electrification, readying for electric vehicle charging, and more would become requirements for buildings and big renovations. Natick would be among the first few dozen communities to adopt the code if this article passes.
Article 19 is unusual in that it focuses on an individual—Natick Police Officer John Haswell—who seeks to work past the standard retirement age of 65 for public safety employees. Discussion at public meetings regarding this article have included references to Haswell’s special skills and contacts as an investigator, and his ability to mentor and transfer knowledge to younger officers before he does retire.
A couple of articles might cause déjà vu. An effort to rezone properties on North Main Street to allow a return to retail use failed in the fall, but Article 24 will tackle that and more. Article 28, a citizen petition, will address town adoption of Paid Family Medical Leave benefits for town employees—an article on this topic at Fall Annual Town Meeting was referred back to the sponsor.
Article 27 is a citizen petition that seeks to secure funds to fix the bumpy and dangerous intersection at Speen Street and Rte. 135 (West Central St.).
Articles 29, 30, and 31 all pertain to zoning changes proposed to support development of an assisted living and memory care unit atop Pond Road on the Natick/Wellesley line. This has been a complicated effort, as the proponent is seeking approvals in both towns, neither of which necessarily wants to make the first move.
Residents haven’t exactly been tripping over one another to secure Town Meeting seats, of which there are 180 across 10 precincts. The town’s Town Meeting page shows not a single contested race for Town Meeting seats, and 9 vacancies in Precinct 1. The Town Election is on March 26.
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