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Town Meeting is the legislative body of the Town, As such, any claim that an action or inaction taken by Town Meeting causes an individual to incur financial damages would generally not prevail under the doctrine of legislative immunity. Accordingly, there is no scenario that Town Counsel would foresee whereby the Town would be liable to an individual homeowner for legal fees incurred in defending against an abutter challenge to the operation of an STR even if Article 2 does not pass.
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There is only one Warrant. The Warrant is the document that was signed by the Select Board, posted, and published as required by law. The Warrant is intended only to notify the voters of the actions to be taken at the Special Town Meeting. Town Meeting actually votes, however, on motions for each article in the Warrant presented by the Finance Committee (except for zoning articles in which case the Planning Board traditionally makes the motion). A motion may have different wording than what was printed in the Warrant and will be allowed on the Floor subject to a scope determination by the Town Moderator. The Town will prior to the Special Town Meeting mail a booklet containing the Finance Committee motions to all households where at least one registered voter resides. For each article, the booklet will show what was printed in the warrant followed by the Finance Committee motion shown in bold text, which may be different than what was contained in the Warrant.
The Finance Committee motion for Article 1 differ in two ways from the printed Warrant that had been approved by the Select Board. One of those differences is linkage. The Finance Committee motion calls for “two-way” linkage of Articles 1 and 2. Both articles must pass in order for each to go into effect. The Warrantapproved by the Select Board calls for only “one-way” linking. Article 1 could pass without the passage of Article 2, but Article 2 requires the passage of Article 1.
The other difference involves the definition of what properties can be “grandfathered” as STRs. The Finance Committee motion under Article 1 extends grandfathering to any property with a structure that received a Certificate of Occupancy by November 7, 2023. The Warrant approved by the Select Board limits grandfathering to STRs that were already in use under certain circumstances.
The Finance Committee motion is considered the main motion, but it may be amended on the floor of Town Meeting, if allowed by the Town Moderator. Any registered voter may make a motion to amend the Finance Committee main motion under Article 1 by moving to substitute the language contained in the Warrant for the Finance Committee motion. The quantum of vote for passage of any motion to amend is a majority vote. If the motion to amend the Finance Committee’s main motion passes, then Town Meeting will vote on the main motion as amended. The quantum of vote for passage of a main motion under Article 1, whether it is amended or not, is a simple majority. The quantum of vote for passage of a main motion under Article 2, whether it is amended or not, is two-thirds because it is an amendment to the Town’s Zoning Bylaw.
From the definitions in the Warrant:
Hosted Stay: An overnight stay whereby a short-term renter occupies a portion of a dwelling unit where the owner is present. An owner is considered present when the owner is on the premises except during the daytime and/or work hours.
Cottage Colony: A group of four or more detached dwellings, legally in existence at the time of adoption of this bylaw, located on a single lot, which is customarily occupied on a seasonal basis.
That cost will be established by the Town.
It is expected that the provisions of Article 1 will be funded from the registration fee of $250 per registration. Given recent numbers of STRs, that would bring in more than $500,000 per year. A portion of that would be used to pay for data gathering, and the rest could be used on ongoing enforcement of regulations.
The Town will have the ability in the future to adjust the size of the registration fee as needed to cover the costs of enforcement.
From the Warrant: N. The Select Board may designate a Town Official or Town Board to grant a waiver from any of the provisions contained in Paragraphs I through M of this chapter upon a showing that such a waiver is necessary in order to prevent an undue hardship.