Votes taken at special town meeting in Southwick

Several town officials were present for the meeting in order to go over the articles that were proposed to voters. (Photo by Greg Fitzpatrick/The Westfield News)

SOUTHWICK, Mass. (The Westfield News) – The town of Southwick held a special town meeting at the Southwick Regional School auditorium on Tuesday night.

The meeting consisted of seven different articles that were drafted by town counsel. All citizens residing in Southwick, who registered to vote for the meeting, were able to vote on all of the articles.

The highlight of the meeting involved the Congamond Rd. sewer project. Called Article I, it was “to see if the town will appropriate $950,000 or any other amount to pay costs of designing and constructing sewers in the Congamond Rd. area.”

Select Board Chairman Russ Fox started off Article I by making a motion to take no action on Article I. According to Fox, he and the Select Board met earlier on Tuesday and felt that it would be best to seek and continue more options for funding and other alternatives.

Doug Moglin, the Vice-Chairman of the Select Board, backed up Fox’s statement.

“I think what we don’t want to do is come back with the same article,” said Moglin. “We’re going to come back to this, we’re going to reformulate this.”

The article was then called to a vote and was carried by a majority vote that there would be no action taken at this time.

Following the Congamond Rd. sewer topic, the rest of the articles were all either carried by a majority vote or voted unanimously.

Having Article 2 passed, allowed the town to appropriate and transfer available funds for a total of $53,520.00. The funds included several operating accounts from the town of Southwick.

Article 3 will allow the sum of $5,000 from the town of Southwick to be transferred to the Southwick Fire Department. The $5,000 will be used for their Apparatus Study that Chief Russ Anderson is spearheading.

The next article would change part of the bylaw for the town’s business restricted zone. As there were five different sections regarding the business restricted zone, the main changes were allowing mixed use for businesses and as well as the design standards that will help the homes within the zone keep that New England feel.

The mixed use could allow a small business owner to have his or her business on one floor while the other floor could be used for someone’s living space.

Planning Board Chairman Roz Terry addressed the crowd regarding the importance of the mixed use.

“This was not allowed under the current zoning,” said Terry. “We worked hard to find a way for that tool.”

Article 5 was based on deleting the current definition of the agricultural sign in town in its entirety and replacing it. The new sign would be a free-standing sign that would advertise farm businesses agricultural products, agricultural recreation, and commercial recreation.

Terry also explained to the crowd what the intention is for this article.

“We’re hoping to kind of tweak it and update it,” said Terry.

The old library reuse was the discussion for Article 6. Since the article was voted yes unanimously, the Select Board will now be able to enter into a lease for the property which is on 475 College Hwy.

Dave Gunn, a member of the Historical Commission, has been heavily involved with this project and described what the passing of the article means.

“What this allows us to do is keep the items preserved,” said Gunn. “We get to work hand in hand with the person that’s going to lease it.”

The next step for the old library use consists of town counsel creating a request for proposal and then the property will go out to bid.

The final Article was to allow any public office in town to remain closed on any or all Saturdays. Town Clerk Michelle Hill said it will move the last day of voting from a Saturday to a Friday.

As the Select Board was happy to see a good turnout from the registered voters, they were also glad to see certain things get unanimously passed.

Select Board Clerk Joe Deedy was satisfied with the outcome of Article 6.

“I’m glad we’re moving forward with that library,” said Deedy.

Fox also talked about the one article that didn’t pass, which was regarding the Congamond Rd. sewer project.

“We just need more time,” said Fox. “There’s a solution out there, we just have to find out.”