A fellow town resident emailed GreylockNews.com asking for advice about how to vote at tonight’s Town Meeting regarding Michael Deep’s “citizen petition” effort to create commercial zoning in South Williamstown only for the Waubeeka Golf Links property.
There is lots of background below and at http://www.greylocknews.com
that doesn’t need repeating and an unofficial “Voters Guide” too that is here:
GreylockNews.com (Bill Densmore) has tried to present reportorial-style information about Mr. Deep’s proposal. But we are not a news organization and, like a newspaper, which publishes editorials, we have formed some opinions.
It strikes us that our readers might like to know those opinions, in order to filter how you interpret our reportorial-style information.
One take is here:
WILL THERE BE A SECRET BALLOT?
One fellow townsperson asked if voting tonight will be by secret ballot. My reply:
To do it by secret ballot, someone will have to make a motion and we will have to vote on it. I am certain someone will make that motion. I know from talking to Town Clerk Mary Kennedy that she is anticipating secret ballot(s) and has set up the infrastructure and people to handle it.
As a point of information to individuals who work for Williams College, we posted this blog entry last night:
BELOW EXCERPTED FROM:
A Williams College official replied to a query from GreylockNews.com, asking the school to comment on worries that its employees might feel concern at town meeting in voting contrary to the college's interests or positions. Said James Kolesar, a college spokesman: " . . . [C]olleges, including Williams, are by no means in short supply of public criticism from their employees, and that's how it should be." Williams is appealing to voters to approve an up-to-100-room hotel it proposes for the bottom of Spring Street, to replace the Williams Inn, which would be razed.
Here is the advice we offered today to that fellow town resident:
On Tue, May 17, 2016 at 10:53 AM, xxxxxxxxxxxxx wrote:
Hi Bill - thanks for keeping us up to date on the important but shifting & confusing situation about Deep's request to change zoning at Waubeeka. I have a couple of last minute questions:
1. Why hasn't anyone objected to Parese as lawyer representing Deep serving as moderator at Town Meeting? Seems like a conflict of interest.
ACTUALLY, STAN ISN'T THE MODERATOR ANYMORE -- ITS ADAM FILSON.
But here’s is Stan’s view about the essential value of Town Meeting:
2. For people who think this proposed zoning overlay is too unspecific, too rushed and too fishy and for people who just this Deep is an untrustworthy sleazeball, any advice on how to approach the meeting tonight?
YES. SUPPORT THE AMENDMENTS BROUGHT BY ANN MCCALLUM to:
- Restrict the square footage of the hotel to an appropriate size that won’t impair other hotel/motel businesses in town, costing us tax revenues.
- Define the 120 as "rooms" not "units" (units could be multiple rooms as in a timeshare) and
- Adjust the Conservation Restriction language as needed to make its intent and application clear.
- Include language which states the clear intent of the voters is to save the golf course (that’s not anywhere in Mr. Deep’s requested language at present).
I believe Ann will make her motion to amend (as representing the majority of the outgoing Planning Board), AFTER Stan Parese moves the Deep-favored amendment.
If the meeting fails on a simple majority vote to attach Ann's amendment to Stan's amendment (which would replace Stan's amendment), then I recommend that you first:
(a) Support a motion to send the whole thing back to the Planning Board to start over again (which also requires only a simple majority), or
(b) Defeat the zoning overlay article on its merits (which at that point will be bad). Only one-third of the meeting has to vote NO on the overall article for it to fail (it needs a two-thirds majority approval). This would be the worst outcome for Mr. Deep; a better outcome for him would be a vote to send it back to the Planning Board without a definitive defeat.
- if there's a motion to table the vote to give the townspeople & the Planning Board more time to assess the proposal, should we vote yes or try to defeat Article 35?
SEE ABOVE. SEQUENCE MATTERS. ALSO, A MOTION TO TABLE REQUIRES A TWO-THIRDS VOTE FOR APPROVAL. A MOTION TO SEND THE MATTER BACK TO THE PLANNING BOARD REQUIRES ONLY A SIMPLE MAJORITY OF THOSE VOTING.
- I guess there are 2 proposed amendments that I assume will be voted on first. Should we vote yes for the better (Planning Board's ) one or vote no on both and hope that the unamended article is so threatening that the people will vote it down?