HANSON — The Board of Selectmen, on Tuesday, July 27 voted to propose articles for special Town Meeting consideration to codify services to examine town by-laws and streamline the one-day liquor license approval process.
Town Administrator Lisa Green said there had recently been discussion about the status and condition of general and zoning by-laws and thinking about possibly having a company come in and codify, update and index them, as well as placing them on the town website.
Green said she contacted General Code, a company she had worked with through her former employer.
“I was absolutely pleased with them in the work that they put forward,” she said. “At the end of this process we will have by-laws [in which] the language is correct, there’s no question, there’s no guessing, there’s no dead end, so to speak.”
Green said she has seen some zoning by-laws, especially, that direct you somewhere but, “You get there and there’s nothing there, so it’s anybody’s guess as to what that means.”
Codification will address all that, she said.
General Code’s proposal would cost under $10,000, according to Green. The firm would also keep by-laws up-to-date online for an annual fee of $11.95.
“We can use our best judgment as far as procurement,” she said. “This is probably a two-year process.”
It would have to come back before Town Meeting in 2023 for adoption when the codification process is complete.
“I think this would be a great thing for the town of Hanson to move forward on,” said Selectmen Chairman Matt Dyer. “If anyone has gone onto our town website, all our by-laws are kind of different sections, different links that you have to click on, and you can’t even do a control-find and try to find anything, because it’s just a scanned PDF.”
He did ask how the company would work with existing by-law committees.
Green said the firm would probably work through her, and send her a copy when they complete their legal analysis. She would separate and give to each committee the by-laws that pertain to them. The committees could decide how they want to proceed.
Selectman Laura FitzGerald-Kemmett said the codification process could look at existing by-laws for outdated language while the Zoning By-law Committee continues to look at what the town has, not through the lens of existing regulations, but by the feedback from people trying to locate businesses in town.
“It doesn’t make sense [for the Zoning By-law Committee] to start meeting in any material way until this exercise is done,” FitzGerald-Kemmett said.
Selectman Kenny Mitchell also noted there has been a suggestion to bring a name change for the board to Select Board, and asked how difficult that would be.
“There’s a lot of by-laws that would have to be changed as a result of that,” he said, asking if the company could help with it.
“I will say that’s a really easy fix,” Dyer said, noting that a search and replace function on a computer could make that change.
Green said gender-specific language would be changed to gender neutral at the town’s request.
Selectman Joe Weeks asked about coverage for zoning workload.
“The key in that is how are they defining ‘new laws?’” FitzGerald-Kemmett said. “I presume they are defining that as new state laws.”
Weeks said he wanted to be able to realistically budget for any changes.
“If it’s reasonable, then we just budget for it and it just becomes part of our cadence going forward at Town Meeting,” FitzGerald-Kemmett said.
Green indicated she would obtain information on the cost going forward once the project is complete and the town enters the maintenance phase.
The board also voted to support special legislation that would allow the town administrator to sign one-day liquor licenses.
“[Over] the last couple of weeks, it just seems that us meeting biweekly, isn’t sufficient enough to get one-day liquor licenses signed off on,” Dyer said.
His motion was intended to allow Town Counsel Kate Feodoroff to draft special legislation for Town Meeting to consider, allowing the town administrator to approve such licenses.
I think it’s a good idea, it’s very ministerial,” Selectman Laura FitzGerald-Kemmett. “It’s not like we really have a discussion about it. … We get the paperwork from the Camp Kiwanee guys and they’re listing what type of event it is and they’re using a prescribed … bartender. There’s not a lot of variety.”
Selectman Jim Hickey said he thought the idea was a good one in light the recent situations where license were approved after the fact.
Mitchell also suggested placing an application deadline prior to an event to prevent the need for retroactive license approvals for weddings and similar events.
In other business, Police Chief Michael Miksch informed the board that officer Kevin McCarthy is retiring Saturday, July 31m but has agreed to remain as a part-time officer, to help with details and events, as of Aug. 1.
Bridgewater resident Ryan Shaugnessy, an EMT who has put himself through a part-time police academy, has been forwarded to be offered the conditional position as a student police officer effective Sept. 20. Shaugnessy is currently a Plymouth County Sheriff’s Department deputy and part-time correctional officer. When the department became part of the regional dispatch center, five dispatchers were lost and put on four full-time officers.