FinCom reviews final four Town Meeting Articles

The town’s finance committee concluded its article review Monday night as one article was indefinitely postponed, one was not voted on, and two were not recommended.

Marblehead resident Daniel Albert spoke on behalf of the article he is sponsoring, Article 50, which entails a vote to amend town bylaws relative to new subdivisions. The goal of this article, Albert said, is to help make Marblehead safer for pedestrians. The article would provide developers of properties with two books that discuss building on properties with pedestrian safety in mind: the latest editions of “AASHTO Guide for the Planning, Design, and Operation of Pedestrian Facilities,” and “A Policy on Geometric Design of Highways and Streets.”

“(Article 50) tells developers that Marblehead wants them to put a pedestrian on the same footing as motor vehicles,” Albert said. 

In the books are topics like how big a sidewalk should be and how long a red light should last, Albert said. He also said that both books would be recommended for town committees and developers to read, but not required. 

Albert said that the article has no bearing on building codes or zoning amendments, and would cost no money to the town. However, committee member Michael Janko said that there would be costs.

“When you talk about adding new rules, regulations, that’s going to require people’s time,” Janko said. “Maybe it’s not a cost that we see, but it’s man hours that are going to be invested by people that have to read these rules, put these rules into effect, and review the rules.”

Committee Chair Alec Goolsby replied by saying that Article 50 is advisory and there are no requirements to read the books. Janko then responded that whether the reading is required or not, some hours will still be spent on the review of the books and their implementation. 

Town Administrator Thatcher Kezer offered his assessment of the article, saying that it would simply add guidelines “that planning boards would use to look at development projects.”

“What matters, what really makes it happen or not happen, are the conditions set by the Planning Board for development,” he said. “It sounds like what would happen is they could choose to grab some kind of conditions out of the actual guidelines or any other guidelines and make it a condition upon the development.”

After review, it was decided that the article would not impact the town financially in a significant way, and the committee did not vote on a recommendation.

Article 46, which aims to allow for the installation of heat pumps in the Old and Historic Districts in order to help the town reach its goal of 100 percent carbon-free energy, was indefinitely postponed by the committee after Goolsby said it was not being brought forward. Last week, the committee did not make a recommendation on the article. 

Articles 51 and 52, which would, respectively, require certain boards and committees to record meeting minutes and make all meetings available for remote viewing, did not see a vote for recommendation by the Finance Committee. However, they will still be brought forward at Town Meeting.