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Among the notable Special Town Meeting articles on Oct. 28, will be one that asks voters to approve a change to the town charter.
Article 12 represents the national push toward gender neutral policies. The gender neutral adjective “they” is now used in place of “he” or “she.” The movement has reached Westford Town Hall.
[CLICK HERE TO SEE THE SPECIAL TOWN MEETING WARRANT.]
Selectman Andrea Peraner-Sweet, on Sept. 9 volunteered to make changes to the town charter to rid it of the male pronoun.
Peraner-Sweet pulled together a small group, consisting of Selectman Elizabeth Almeida and resident Diane Wood. The three went through the town charter and changed references to the “board of selectmen” to “selectboard.”
“We also took out all the gender pronouns which were all “he” and changed those to either be inclusive or to refer back to the particular position that was being referred to,” said Peraner-Sweet.
If the measure passes at Special Town Meeting it will then go before the state Legislature for approval of a Home Rule petition, noted Peraner-Sweet.
Board members voted in favor of the change, 3 to 1 to 1. Selectman Mark Kost denied it and Selectman Scott Hazelton abstained without explanation.
Article 6 — another notable article — seeks approval for the purchase of accounting software in regard to a new fee assessed to property owners. The software would fund a federal mandate involving stormwater management. The mandate is designed to reduce toxins in water run-off and keep sources of drinking water free from contaminates.
Selectmen voted unanimously on Sept. 9 to charge property owners a fee based on the amount of impervious surface exists on their land. The five-tiered fee will cover the additional $1 million needed to meet the federal requirements above and beyond the budgeted $600K already contained in the municipal budget.
For properties with less than 2,000 square feet of impervious surface, the fee would be $37.50 per year.
Those with 2000 to 2,900 square feet would pay $52.50 annually.
Square footage greater than 2,900 but less than 4,100, would pay $75 per year.
A fee of $97.50 would be assessed to properties with 4,100 to 5,500 square feet of impervious surface.
Above 5,500 square feet, property owners would be charged $150 per year.
The software will cost $42,522 for the IT department and another $32,078 for the Water Department. Article 6 also seeks to create an self-supporting enterprise fund that would allow Town Manager Jodi Ross to draw upon unspent amounts for necessary items.
Total Number of Articles
In all, voters will act upon 13 articles — a relatively short warrant in comparison to other years.
Town Meeting opens on Monday, Oct. 28 at 7 p.m. at the Abbot School. WestfordCAT will air it live.
UPDATE: The second paragraph regarding Article 12 was modified.