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Williamstown town meeting attendees vote on a motion to adjourn the meeting to June 14 before considering any of the items on the 49-article warrant.

Williamstown Town Meeting Adjourns to June 14

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
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Alison Case moves to adjourn Williamstown's annual town meeting at its outset on Tuesday evening.
 
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Attendees at Tuesday's annual town meeting voted overwhelmingly to adjourn the meeting at its outset and continue on Tuesday, June 14, at 7 p.m. at Mount Greylock Regional School.
 
As expected, a motion to adjourn was made immediately after Town Moderator Adam Filson called the meeting to order in the Williamstown Elementary School gymnasium.
 
The motion, which needed a simple majority for passage, was approved by a vote of 149-49. The meeting was attended by 242 registered voters in a town where there are 4,926 registered voters, a turnout of a little less than 5 percent.
 
Alison Case of Green River Road made the motion, arguing that some community members may have been uncomfortable attending the meeting in the smaller WES gym and meeting at the middle-high school gym would be more democratic.
 
"I know we're all sick of the [COVID-19] virus," Case said. "I know many of us feel like, ‘We're vaccinated, we're masked, we're boosted, let's get on with it."
 
But then Case pointed out that the pandemic is still very much alive, and the current numbers locally are not encouraging.
 
"Hospitalizations, in the last 14 days, are up 164 percent in Berkshire County," she said. "In Massachusetts, deaths are up 72 percent in the last 14 days. … Compared to this time last year, hospitalizations are up 163 percent over this time last year. This virus is still making people very sick. It is still killing people.
 
"I, for one, do not want to have a town meeting in which the voices of many of the elderly and the most vulnerable and the people who care for them are disproportionately excluded."
 
Randall Fippinger, the current chair of the town's Diversity, Inclusion and Racial Equity Committee, read from the floor a resolution of the committee in support of adjourning the meeting "to provide a more inclusive opportunity and democratic participation."
 
The debate on Case' motion lasted more than 10 minutes, partly because Tony Boskovich attempted to amend the motion to adjourn the meeting to a date not before May 27.
 
Boskovich argued that there is no guarantee COVID-19 conditions will be any better in mid-June and delaying the meeting until June 14 would put the town at risk of not having a budget approved before the start of the new fiscal year on July 1.
 
But as Filson indicated in an article on iBerkshires.com on May 10, any move to adjourn the meeting would need to come with a specific date, time and location, and he eventually ruled Boskovich's motion out of order.
 
Select Board Chair Andrew Hogeland meanwhile, informed the meeting members that the June 14 date had been arranged with officials at Mount Greylock Regional School but that he had discussed no May dates for the continuation of the meeting.
 
"Historically, all of our town meetings have taken one night only, so the contemplation is that whatever we'd do on the 14th would take one night," Hogeland said.
 
It could be a long night. The town meeting warrant has 49 articles, including several that likely will generate considerable debate, particularly around proposed changes to the town's zoning bylaws in its residential districts.
 
"I think it's critical the decisions we make tonight … are the will of the voters," said Roger Lawrence, arguing in favor of Case' motion to adjourn. "I fear very much that if we continue tonight, we will be making important decisions that do not represent the will of the people of our town."

Tags: town meeting 2022,   

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