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Erving annual town meeting: yes to library planning, gas station rule planning

ERVING — The town’s voters have decided to be looking at improving its library.

Annual town meeting authorized paying a one-third match to launch a feasibility study of library expansion, reconstruction or renovation options.

The meeting on Wednesday also started the ball rolling on a second effort to amend the town bylaws to allow a gas station on Ralph Semb’s property on Route 2 in a water protection district.

Library Director Barbara Friedman has led a push for a new or expanded library through a state grant process.

The first phase of the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners planning and construction grant would provide $50,000 for planning, with the $25,000 from the town a grant requirement. Friedman said there are 25 slots and 35 applicants for the grant.

The feasibility study is to examine three options: expanding the existing library on Moore Street, renovating some other structure elsewhere in town, or building new.

Friedman and patrons have represented to the Erving Board of Selectmen that the building is too small, old and occasionally moldy.

Finance Committee member Arthur Johnson said his committee had been split on the recommendation for the article. Johnson said he didn’t want to get into the same situation as nearby towns and spend a lot of money on library projects that became bogged down.

“I feel the library is more than big enough as it is, and it’s meeting everyone’s needs,” Johnson said. Asked if he had ever been inside the library, Johnson said that he has not, but his kids have.

The motion to provide the $25,000 passed unanimously.

The gas station debate began to warm up again with varying views of the safety of modern gas storage in a water protection zone established to protect the aquifer.

An effort to change that rule failed in 2009, with a majority that did not meet the two-thirds requirement for bylaw changes.

Semb put on the agenda a broad article allowing a gas station in town — already allowed — but amended it at the meeting to request the selectmen and Planning Board study the feasibility of changing the zoning specific to his property. Semb wants to build in the lot with the Dunkin’ Donuts and convenience store he built next door to his bowling alley.

The article passed as amended by a close voice vote declared a majority by the moderator.

The only item not to pass was one creating bylaws for the governance of the Council on Aging. The meeting voted unanimously to pass over the article at the request of Selectman Eugene Klepadlo, who said the town lawyer had asked for time to read and trim the bylaws to match a town of Erving’s size.

Also among the 38 items on the agenda and approved:

∎A general town budget of $3,102,353, up $89,088 or 3 percent.

∎A Franklin County Technical School assessment of $380,833, up $75,531 or 24.7 percent due to an increase of four Erving students.

∎Gill-Montague Regional School district secondary education tuitions totaling $990,476, up $27,541 or 2.7 percent.

∎An Erving Elementary School budget up 3.7 percent, to $2,598,566.

∎$100,086 for the salaries and stipends of paid elected town officials, up 2 percent.

∎$672,944 to fund sewer operations, $182,944 from Montague and other receipts.

∎Three articles totaling $23,000 for Police Department computers and guns.

∎$30,000 for an emergency generator to power Fire Hall 2, in Ervingside.

∎$835,759 for the town stabilization or savings fund.

∎New Water Department rules and regulations.

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