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A fast click through Annual Town Meeting

By Ann Needle

May 11, 2024

        Compared with last year’s day-long Annual Town Meeting (ATM), this year’s affair had everyone out the Center School doors by lunchtime. The May 11 ATM, which determined Town spending for fiscal year 2025, saw less than 150 residents pass all but one of the Articles presented for votes.

        The only item voted down was proposed spending of almost $150,000 on the structural needs of Center and Hale Middle schools. Nashoba District Director of Facilities Rob Frieswick told the approximately 150 attendees that the studies would offer a deep dive into structural needs, showing “the impact of years of deferred maintenance.” However, this capital request under Article 36 also was the only one not recommended by the Finance Committee, which asserted it needs more information on the survey to justify the spending.

        An amendment to the article, proposed by resident Ross Perry, to lower the amount to $25,000 per school was also rejected before the main motion was voted down.

        Two items received no-action votes, both under the capital requests of Article 36. The first was $25,000 for an escape window in the Fire Station’s bunker window-less bunker room. However, Town Administrator Denise Dembkoski said the Town may instead turn that room into a women’s locker room for female Fire staff, where a window would not be appropriate. The next no action was on a request for $39,500 for body cameras for Stow Police officers, something Dembkoski said is still being negotiated with the police union.

        As perhaps the article garnering the most interest, Article 49 amended the Zoning bylaws to lay down rules on where and how firearms businesses can locate in Stow. The Article was voted after two amendments were passed that prohibit display of firearms products to those outside those shops, and adding nursing homes and independent adult living housing to the 500-ft. buffer zone separating firearms businesses from residences and other areas.

        Article 49 was also the only vote passed via electronic clickers (89-20), with the clickers not operating until that vote.

        Complete coverage on ATM will be available in the May 15 Independent.