Northfield voters to consider new bylaws, funding emergency services facility planning

  • Northfield’s Special Town Meeting will be held Monday at 7 p.m. at Pioneer Valley Regional School, pictured. Staff File Photo/Paul Franz

News Editor
Published: 1/21/2022 4:11:45 PM
Modified: 1/21/2022 4:10:39 PM

NORTHFIELD — The 16 warrant articles on tap for Monday’s Special Town Meeting range from a $90,000 request to continue funding the project manager for the planned emergency services facility, and three new bylaws regulating animal control, unregistered vehicles and noise.

The meeting will start at 7 p.m. at Pioneer Valley Regional School. Masks are required inside the building.

Town Administrator Andrea Llamas described the warrant as having “a smattering of topics,” many of which — like the new bylaws — town officials have been working on for a long time. Some, like the possibility of joining the Pioneer Valley Mosquito Control District, need to be voted on before spring.

Although the Selectboard voted to hire Colliers International as the owner’s project manager for the town’s ongoing emergency services facility project back in October, Town Meeting voters will be asked to set aside another $90,000 to continue funding the company’s work.

With help from Colliers International, the Emergency Services Facility Committee has considered numerous sites, Llamas said, evaluating them based on road access, water and sewer capability, lot size, topography, three-phase power capability and location in relation to the majority of homes. The additional funding will support Colliers International continuing to move forward with planning, she said, including engineering, testing and surveying work.

While some articles on the warrant involve codifying and cleaning up existing bylaws, Llamas said bylaws on animal control, noise and unregistered vehicles are new.

Northfield has been using a very old noise bylaw, Llamas said, which town officials have found to be inadequate. The proposed new bylaw, she said, makes it “clearer for everyone what the expectations are and gives the Selectboard some enforcement.”

The proposed bylaw states “it shall be unlawful for any person to create, assist in creating, continue or allow to continue any excessive, unusually loud, disturbing or injurious noise that annoys, disturbs, injures or endangers the reasonable quiet, comfort, repose or the health or safety of others, during the hours of 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.” The bylaw also outlines definitions, exemptions and punishment — a $50 fine for a first offense, a $100 fine for a second offense and a $200 fine for a third offense.

Regarding animal control, Llamas explained Northfield receives animal control services through the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, which is requesting its served towns adopt consistent bylaws that also align with state law.

“All members of the (animal control) district are asked to implement the same bylaws across the board,” she said.

The proposed bylaw has detailed sections outlining dog licensing, animal waste removal, leashing expectations, rabies control and more.

The proposed unregistered vehicle bylaw, meanwhile, seeks to fill a hole the town has had since 2012, when the zoning bylaws were reviewed and it was determined that unregistered vehicle regulations — which the town had established in the 1970s — do not belong in the zoning bylaws, but rather the general bylaws. According to Llamas, the unregistered vehicle regulations were thus removed from the zoning bylaws, but not put into the general bylaws.

The bylaw that Town Meeting voters will be asked to consider on Monday limits residents to having one unregistered vehicle, assembled or disassembled, unless those vehicles are kept in an enclosed building. Exceptions are made for vehicles designed for farming, and a special permit to keep more than one unregistered vehicle can be approved by the Selectboard following a public hearing process.

Additionally, Article 4, if approved, would create a new assistant town clerk position, something that numerous county towns — including Buckland, where Llamas used to work — have sprung for in recent years due largely to the increasing workload expected of town clerks.

“There’s a lot to do,” she said. “Elections have gotten much more complicated.”

An assistant would work 10 hours per week, at a salary of $10,000 per year. The addition would also ease a transition, should current Town Clerk Dan Campbell not seek re-election to his position.

“Cross-training is always a good thing in a small town, though most towns have a hard time doing it due to the financial costs,” Llamas said.

“(Campbell’s) the sole person in that office,” she added. “If he gets sick, if he goes on vacation, if there’s a medical issue, that office closes.”

Article 6, meanwhile, would allow members of a board to vote on a matter if they have been absent from a related public hearing — which is currently prohibited — provided that they can watch a recording of that hearing.

Llamas noted that, over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the town has achieved a much better system of recording meetings.

Other articles entail:

■Support to finance hiring engineers to chart out future capital projects at Northfield Elementary School.

■Accepting from Northfield Mount Hermon School a small 11,982-square-foot strip of land adjacent to Pentecost Cemetery.

■Joining the Pioneer Valley Mosquito Control District, at a cost of $5,000 per year.

To view the full 16-article warrant, visit bit.ly/3G2krVf.

Reach Shelby Ashline at 413-772-0261, ext. 270 or sashline@recorder.com.


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