Friday, May 7, 2004
Town Meeting Board of Health expanded from 3 to 5 Selectmen change position at last minute
The vote on Article 22, expanding the membership of the Board of Health (BOH) from three to five, passed easily and without discussion. The uneventful passage, however, masked the last-minute drama between the BOH and the Selectmen that occurred earlier that evening.
The previous week this was the only Article that the Selectman had unanimously voted to oppose, citing concerns that it may be impossible to roundup five volunteers and questioning why the BOH had not contacted them to explain the Article. A very tense BOH confronted the Selectmen at 6 p.m. on Monday — minutes before checking in for the Annual Town Meeting — seeking to change their collective mind. BOH Chair Martha Bedrosian first pointed out that the BOH was never invited to a Selectmen's meeting, and then proceeded to review the justifications for the Article:
• Absence or recusal of one member leaves only two members, requiring a unanimous vote and frequently delaying a decision to the petitioner.
• The BOH workload has grown as a result of new state regulations governing food establishments, camps, and Title V regulations, town growth, and lately, emergency preparedness.
• Existing regulations are in various stages of review, including those covering water supply, manure stockpiling/composting, sewage disposal, and septic regulations (not updated since July 1, 1998) with respect to the development of alternative technologies, changes in Title V, and comprehensive permits.
• Larger membership to the board will reduce workload and make residents more interested in serving on the board.
• Although the board has significant authority by statute, it remains the smallest board in town and a broader base for input would produce the fairest and most knowledgeable decisions and policies.
After understanding the reasons, the Selectmen voted unanimously to support the Article.
Two hours later Bedrosian made the same presentation on the floor of the Town Meeting. The audience appeared satisfied and had neither questions nor comments. The Article passed without opposition.
© 2004 The