Charter Revision Commission rejects more ideas than it likes

No to term limits. No to changing the percentage of voters needed to petition for town meetings. No to electing selectmen every two rather than every four years. No to eliminating the office of town treasurer.

The Charter Revision Commission said no to a lot of ideas Saturday morning, April 21, the same session in which it decided move forward with the hotly debated proposal to split the Inland Wetlands Board from the Planning and Zoning Commission.

The charter commission did support one other proposal, voting to rename the Economic Development Commission as the Economic and Community Development Commission — without any change in its responsibilities.

“We’re definitely more than halfway done,” Chairman Jonathan Seem told his colleagues at the end of the busy Saturday session.

The charter commission had begun its work months ago by inviting townspeople and different boards and commissions to offer suggestions of potential charter changes they’d like to see considered. After weeks of studying and debating, the commission voted on a quite a few of them Saturday — rejecting most.

The final list of changes the commission does recommend will be sent to the selectmen for review and possible elimination of ideas that they don’t like. The changes that pass muster with the selectmen will then be sent to the voters for approval or rejection — the goal is to have that vote in the November election.

No decisions

A proposal the commission didn’t decide — opting for more study — was the idea of making the first selectman a voting member of the Board of Finance.

“I was trying to have the first selectman’s job more accurately reflect what a majority of voters think it is,” said commission member Chuck Hancock, who’d proposed it.

The commission discussed — but did not decide — on a request that it prevent people from running for more than one office at a municipal election. Instead, the commission created a subcommittee of Les Steinman and Ellen Burns to try to craft language to address the issue.

Similarly, it didn’t decide about a request that various appointed officials all be given terms of a consistent length. Bill Davidson and Steinman were assigned to study and come up with some proposed language on the subject.

No, no, no

The commission said no to requiring that any proposal that gains 100 or more petition signatures be guaranteed a vote at the Annual Town Meeting.

It decided not to create an Affordable Housing Commission.

The commission declined a proposal to have the Parking Authority report to the Economic Development Commission. (Both report to the selectmen, who appoint the members.)

The charter commission decided not allow people appointed to fill vacancies on the Zoning Board of Appeals to serve until the end of the five-year term of the person they’re replacing — appointments to the ZBA will continue to go only until the next municipal election.

The commission declined a proposal “to integrate the Internet into the town’s petition process.”

Two other proposals concerning petitions were rejected — one would have increased the number of petition signatures needed to call town meetings for various purposes, and the other proposal would have lowered the number of signatures needed.

“We’re chasing rabbits down holes and we have no idea what’s going to befall,” said charter commissioner Patrick Walsh. “I’m not in favor of changing percentages.”