Tewksbury Selectmen May Revisit Billboard Warrant Article
TEWKSBURY -- In a close vote during October’s Special Town Meeting, an article looking to allow billboards in town was defeated. But, because it would mean an opportunity for the town to bring in additional revenue, the Board of Selectmen considered bringing it before residents, once again, for a vote.
At Tuesday’s Board of Selectmen meeting, Chair Jay Kelly opened the discussion on revisiting the article at the upcoming Annual Town Meeting in May, advertising the revenue opportunity. Selectman Mark Kratman said he couldn’t agree more with Kelly. Kratman even suggested the revenue generated from any future billboard signs go toward sidewalk improvements in town.
“We’re always talking about trying to cut taxes, well this is something we can get instant revenue to do improvements to the town without the residents having to pay for that,” Kratman said.
He added that if the article was brought back with a clearer definition, it may be successful at a future Town Meeting.
The Special Town Meeting article sought to allow billboard signs only along Interstates 495 and 93, but residents said they were concerned with potential accidents and the signs not being in harmony with the character of the town. The article failed with 100 voting in favor and 73 opposed. Because the article needed a two-thirds vote to pass, 115 votes were needed for it to be successful.
Selectman Brian Dick said he was also in favor of revisiting the article, but said he was not sure about earmarking the revenue for something specific. Because it was a zoning article, he also said they had to be careful about bringing the article back for a vote. While zoning articles have statutory limitations, Town Manager Richard Montuori said if the Planning Board votes favorably, that should be enough to bring the article back to Town Meeting.
Selectman Todd Johnson represents the Board of Selectmen on the town’s Zoning Bylaw Committee, and played a role in crafting this article for October’s Special Town Meeting.
While he echoed the sentiments of his fellow board members on how revenue generated could be an asset to the town and his disappointment in the Special Town Meeting vote, he hesitated on bringing it back before the town for a vote so quickly. Johnson said they have to respect how the residents voted.
“I have some concerns about trying to substitute our judgment for what Town Meeting determined,” Johnson said.
Instead, Johnson suggested hosting some public forums to get resident input and further hear what the concerns are in the community. He also said he is not a fan of the idea to earmark how the revenue would be used because if the town’s needs change, they would still be locked into one use for the money.
“We want to be very careful and give it some thought before we kind of race getting it into the May warrant,” Johnson said.
The Board of Selectmen also...
* Unanimously voted to extend the town’s Dascomb Road Limited Partnership sewer agreement with Andover from 2024 to 2037.
* Unanimously approved the request for the switch box at the corner of East and Shawsheen streets to be painted by a resident.
* Unanimously approved an entertainment license for TJ Callahan’s for Dec. 31, 2018 and March 17, 2019.
Follow Kori Tuitt on Twitter @KoriTuitt.