In their Final Statement, the Charter Commission said that they addressed issues such as “transparency, conflicts of interest, the rights of nature, [and] improvements in the structure of our government to make it more efficient, democratic, and accountable…”
As for ‘rights of nature’, that provision was dropped after myself and others informed the Charter Commission that in every instance in this country in which a municipality had included it as part of its governing documents it had been struck down by the courts as Unconstitutional.
[Note: For those who want more information about what this language would have entailed please see below on this page.]
As for the remainder of the Charter, I believe the way it is written makes changes to Town structure, reporting, and responsibility that would create a government that is less informed, less transparent, less representative and less efficient.
Below please find my analysis of the major issues raised by this proposed Charter.
Please note that I have not made any comments about the form of government chosen, as that is not up for consideration by the voters this May. The following is solely my assessment as to the potential impacts this particular document may have on the operation of our Town government.
1. Why Town Meeting Would Be Less Informed
One of the hallmarks of the Town Meeting form of government is that it is supposed to provide for the greatest number of voices to be heard on an issue. A number of Charter Commission members repeatedly said it is the most democratic form of government. The hearing of differing voices is an essential element for volunteer government to work. However, this proposed Charter actually reduces the information Town Meeting would receive.
Currently, all Town Meeting Articles are presented to the Advisory & Finance Committee for review, which then reports its findings to Town Meeting. That committee is appointed by the Town Moderator, who is elected town-wide. So if people have an objection as to who is being appointed, they have a means to address it, vote out the Moderator. This Charter gets rid of that safeguard and instead gives the role of advising Town Meeting solely to Town Meeting.
Under the new Charter, the financial component of any proposed article would go to a newly reconstituted Finance Committee (although strangely the Charter still says that allwarrant articles must be considered by the Finance Committee, Draft Charter Section 2-12-2(b)). That committee would be appointed by the Committee of Precinct Chairs (the COPC) and the Town Moderator. (Draft Charter Sections 2-7-5 and 2-12-1). But both the COPC and the Moderator would be appointed solely by Town Meeting. Additionally, Town Meeting Members can also be appointed to the Finance Committee.
[NOTE: This was intentional. An earlier draft of the proposed Charter excluded Town Meeting Members from being on the Finance Committee, but that provision was removed from the final version.]
Separately, non-financial aspects of any Town Meeting article would now be reviewed by the COPC, which would give its recommendation to Town Meeting. (Draft Charter Section 2-7-3). So under this proposed Charter, all of the recommendations being presented to Town Meeting would come from people who are appointed solely by Town Meeting and could be Town Meeting Members. The limitation on presenting independent information to Town Meeting doesn’t stop there.
Under the proposed Charter, Town Meeting also decides who can speak on proposed matters. Town Meeting can decide not to hear any public comment. (Draft Charter Section 2-8-7). Even if the Moderator had agreed in advance to hear from a resident, Town Meeting can overrule that decision. (Draft Charter Section 2-8-4).
The proposed Charter has even created ways in which the COPC and Town Meeting can avoid hearing resident sponsored articles at Town Meeting.
Under the proposed Charter, unless given permission to submit information in writing, the proponent of an article must appear before the Finance Committee, and if not, the article cannot be considered by Town Meeting unless 2/3 agree to hear it. (Draft Charter Section 2-12-2 (c)). This is an extremely high hurdle and could be used to chill public participation.
And even if a proponent fully complies with all COPC and Finance Committee requests, the proposed Charter still allows the Finance Committee to prevent an article from being heard simply by not considering it, in which case again it can only be considered by Town Meeting if 2/3 agree to hear it. (Draft Charter Section 2-12-2 (b)). This loophole is created by the fact that the proposed Charter does not require the Finance Committee to issue any report other than one on the budget, meaning that the decision to act on any other article is left to the Finance Committee. (Draft Charter Section 2-12-2 (a)).
[Note: While this same condition exists under our current Charter, the effect of this language would now be different because the Finance Committee would now become a committee of Town Meeting and not a separate committee, and therefore arguably not subject to the Open Meeting Law.]
The potential result of these changes would be that a select group could control what information is provided to Town Meeting on a particular issue or proposal or even what articles they may consider.
2. Why Town Government Would Be Less Transparent
One of the major reasons that policy making and administrative authority is given to elected boards is that they are subject to the State Ethics Law, G.L. c. 268A, and the Open Meeting Law, G.L. c. 30A §§ 18-35. That means that what these bodies are allowed to do is clearly defined and there is a mechanism to enforce those regulations. However, Town Meeting Members are expressly exempted from both the State Ethics Law, G.L. c. 268A §1(g), and the Open Meeting Law, G.L. c. 39 §§9-10.
- Because of this exemption, our Charter contains Section 2-4-3 which requires that Town Meeting always operate in open session and not hold secret ballots.
- There is no similar requirement for the COPC. That means that the COPC can take the position (as they do currently) that as they are Town Meeting members serving as a committee of Town Meeting they are not subject to these regulations. This would allow the CPOC to hold private meetings, discuss and deliberate on issues, and even reach agreements, all outside the view of the public. Nothing in the proposed Charter would prevent this.
- Additionally, despite giving the COPC new powers, authority, and responsibilities, the proposed Charter does not impose any new ethics requirements or sanctions for violations of Town policy on the COPC, meaning that their members can take actions other Boards can’t.
The proposed Charter also creates new Town Meeting committees which may not be subject to the State Ethics Law and Open Meeting Law, such as the Legislative Oversight Committee. (Draft Charter Sections 2-13-1 – 2-13-4). That committee is proposed to have the power to require board and committee members, department heads, and even Town employees to provide information and answer questions, all of which it could potentially do outside public view. (Draft Charter Section 2-13-3).
Curiously, despite stating that the intention was to make Town government more accountable, and to make Town Meeting a co-equal branch of government, the proposed Charter proceeds to treat Town Meeting and the COPC differently, even exempting them from a number of requirements being imposed on other Town boards:
- Board members are required by state law to attend meetings, and can be removed for failing to do so. There is no sanction included for a Town Meeting Member that fails to attend Town Meeting. (Draft Charter Sections 2-2-7 and 2-5-1).
- Boards are required to hold regular meetings to ensure that they stay current on Town business and events. Town Meeting Members are only required to hold caucuses once before each representative Town Meeting, and there is no sanction for not attending. (Draft Charter Section 2-6-2). The COPC are not required to hold any individual public meetings. (Draft Charter Sections 2-13-1 – 2-13-4).
- The Select Board and its individual members are not permitted to “interfere in the day-to-day administration of the affairs of the town” or “give orders to any employee”. (Draft Charter Sections 3-2-1 and 3-2-6). There is no such restriction on Town Meeting or the COPC. In fact, the proposed Charter expressly authorizes Town Meeting to assign duties to the Town Manager (Draft Charter Section 3-5-1(i)) and for its subcommittee to question Town department heads (Draft Charter Section 2-13-3).
- The proposed Charter creates an Appointments Advisory Committee, which is a good idea. However, the way it would operate is inappropriate. Each Board and committee with a vacancy would present it to this committee which would then advertise it, review the responses, and decide which are its “recommended candidates”. Then those recommended candidates would be provided to the appointing authority, which means that this committee would decide who is qualified, substituting its judgment for that of the appointing authority. (Draft Charter Section 3-17-2). Yet, Town Meeting is expressly excluded from this requirement, even for such significant appointments as the Finance Committee. (Draft Charter Section 3-17-4).
So under this proposed Charter, Town Meeting and the COPC have exempted themselves from the type of oversight and scrutiny imposed on other branches of government, creating a less transparent form of government.
3. Why Town Government Would Be Less Representative
The proposed Charter decreases representation in several ways.
First, the proposed Charter takes away the Town residents’ ability to be involved in the appointment of those advising Town Meeting. Historically, the Advisory and Finance Committee reviews and analyses both the financial and practical aspects of all items going to Town Meeting, serving as an independent review of these Town-wide issues. The members of this committee are appointed by the Town Moderator, a Town-wide elected position. That means that all of the residents have a means of expressing their position regarding such appointments as they vote for the person who makes them. This proposed Charter takes away the checks and balances afforded by such a committee. Instead, under this proposed Charter, the Finance Committee will be appointed solely by people selected by Town Meeting. (Draft Charter Sections 2-7-5 and 2-12-1). Additionally, the committee can be made up of Town Meeting Members (the provision preventing that having been removed from an earlier draft).
[Note: I understand that many people were dissatisfied with the Town Moderator solely being responsible for selecting Advisory and Finance Committee Members, but I suggest that the solution is to change how they are selected - not to eliminate their independence altogether.]
Second, this proposed Charter places more authority for managing Town-wide issues in the hands of Town Meeting and the COPC. For instance:
- The COPC will now advise Town Meeting as to the non-financial component of all Town Meeting Articles. (Draft Charter Section 2-7-3).
- The COPC and Town Moderator, both elected by Town Meeting, would appoint the Finance Committee, which could be made up of Town Meeting Members (the provision preventing that having been removed from an earlier draft). (Draft Charter Sections 2-7-5 and 2-12-1).
- Town Meeting would also appoint 2/3 of the Charter Committee. (Draft Charter Sections 2-7-5 and 8-6-1). Town Meeting has an inherent conflict of interest in addressing Charter issues as it will not be voting to reduce their own ranks or authority (as demonstrated by this Charter Commission, 2/3 of whom were Town Meeting Members).
- Town Meeting can assign areas of responsibility to the Town Manager and direct the Town Manager to perform unspecified duties, meaning that for those items the Town Manager is reporting to Town Meeting. (Draft Charter Section 3-5-1(i)).
- The Town Manager is required to prepare staffing evaluations and provide them to Town Meeting. (Draft Charter Section 3-5-1(h)).
- Town Meeting can question department heads if it disagrees with the policies put in place to implement Town Meeting articles. (Draft Charter Section 2-13-3).
- The Open Space Committee is now reporting directly to Town Meeting, even though it is appointed by the Planning Board, Select Board, and Land Use Acquisition Committee. (Draft Charter Section 3-14-1).
[Note: The Chair of the Charter Commission has asserted that this has not changed, even though I and a number of other Town officials have identified the specific language in Draft Charter Section 3-14-1 which creates that change. I have further submitted a letter to the Charter Commission providing a multi-page legal analysis as to why I believe this language constitutes a change to the Open Space Committee’s autonomy.]
Third, the creation of 3 additional Select Board seats will not create greater representation. That is because of the way these new districts must be created. Under state law it is by population, so South Plymouth would not gain any additional representation as had been previously suggested.
Fourth, the COPC will decide whether or not we have a third Town Meeting. (Draft Charter Section 2-7-3). That is because the decision is based on a majority vote of the combined Select Board and COPC - the Select Board having 7 votes and the COPC having 18.
The concern is that unlike the Select Board, Town Meeting members and the COPC are not elected in a Town-wide vote. That means that individuals who were not elected by the vast majority of the Town will now be given significant influence and even control over Town-wide matters. For instance, a single Town Meeting member could advise Town Meeting on financial matters as a member of the Finance Committee, advise on non-financial matters as a member of the COPC, vote to prevent public comment as a Town Meeting member, and then seek to pressure Town staff as to how an article should be carried out as a member of the Legislative Oversight Committee. This is even more problematic because Town Meeting/COPC members are elected as representatives of their precincts, which creates an inherent conflict if there is a dispute between what may be best for the Town and what their individual precinct wants to have happen, a condition which has prevented needed Town-wide initiatives from being approved in the past. As a result, under this proposed Charter, residents would lose even more control over their ability to influence the matters that affect us all.
4. Why Town Government Will Be Less Efficient
The proposed new Charter imposes a slew of new obligations on various Boards, Committees, and Town employees. This require the hiring of multiple additional Town staff whose roles are fixed as a matter of law, meaning that they cannot be eliminated. For example:
- The Town Manager will be required to provide staffing for any requests voted by Town Meeting (Draft Charter Section 3-5-1(i)); sought by the COPC (Draft Charter Section 2-7-2); as requested by the Town Moderator (Draft Charter Section 2-8-6), all of which are part of Town Meeting, meaning the Town Manager would need to create separate staff to serve the multiple bodies of Town Meeting.
- A new Town Meeting Legislature Oversight Committee made up of 3 COPC members, the Town Manager’s Office and the Town Clerk’s Office. This will require the Town Manager and Town Clerk to participate in additional meetings and prepare additional reports. (Draft Charter Sections 2-13-12 and 2-13-14). This Committee will have the right to interview any board or committee member, department head or employee they want to question about implementation of enforcement of any Town Meeting Article. (Draft Charter Section 2-13-3).
- Town Meeting can assign areas of responsibility to the Town Manager and direct the Town Manager to perform unspecified duties, essentially meaning that the Town Manager also report to Town Meeting. (Draft Charter Section 3-5-1(i)). This is confirmed by the fact that the Town Manager is required to prepare staffing evaluations of town departments and provide them to Town Meeting. (Draft Charter Section 3-5-1(h)).
- The Town Manager has to create a new Appointments Advisory Committee which decides which candidates are qualified for Town committee openings. How one standing committee is qualified to decide every different type of appointment in this Town is unclear, and this also usurps board and committee authority in deciding what they are looking for in their members. (Draft Charter Sections 3-17-1 – 3-17-2). Curiously, all Town Meeting appointments are expressly exempted from this committee, so evidently this committee isn’t qualified to consider who is best suited for those positions. (Draft Charter Section 3-17-4).
- A new “complaints” process is created which requires the Town Clerk to investigate any allegation that a town official or governmental body has not followed the Charter and then requires that official or governmental body to respond in writing. All of which must be published. (Draft Charter Sections 8-5-2, 8-2-5, and 8-2-5). However, no procedure was created for an initial review by someone (such as Town Counsel) to determine if the claim even rises to the level of a Charter violation (as opposed to a mere disagreement with the actions of the official), meaning this provision would allow anyone who simply disagrees with a decision to file a complaint (or multiple complaints) to harass those who are volunteering their time.
Our Town Manager and Finance Director estimate that this will require an additional 8.5 full-time employee equivalents, and that the cost to the taxpayer of implementing this new charter would be $1.4 million in the first year and $850,000 each year after that.
The proposed Charter also creates greater bureaucracy that will limit the time our volunteer elected officials have to actually govern. Some examples:
- The Select Board would be required to have no less than 12 joint meetings with other boards and committees. That means 25% of its meeting time will be spent on such meetings. In addition, staff for both the Select Board and the Committee will have to prepare for those meetings, requiring more people taking more time away from day-to-day operations of the Town. (Draft Charter Sections 2-7-7, 2-13-5, and 3-2-8).
- The Planning Director would be required to prepare, and the Planning Board would be required to review, comment, and vote on, reports regarding compliance with the Master Plan for every proposed by-law, warrant article, or project which falls within the scope of the Planning Department, which would include Open Conservation, Economic Development, and Historic. This will amount to literally hundreds of reports per year, taking more time away from planning for the Town. (Draft Charter Section 3-12-4).
In providing these concerns I am not saying that there are no positive changes being proposed in this new Charter, or that these potential effects were intended by the Charter Commission. To the contrary, I am saying that despite offering some very positive changes this document, which is what we have to vote on this coming election, contains language which could result in significant problems and unintended consequences. The residents should never accept a binding legal document as its guiding constitution which contains such flaws. That is why I support the Town officials, including Town Meeting/COPC Members, who have proposed that this Charter not be adopted, and instead that it be used by a newly appointed Charter Committee as a blueprint to make changes to our current Charter - so that we can adopt the positive aspects and address the deficienies.
The Charter Commission has included a so-called “Rights of Nature” reference in our proposed new charter. Specifically, the preamble of proposed charter states that the purpose of Town government is:
2. To provide its citizens with an efficient and benevolent government that supports creation and maintenance of equitable housing, provides education and employment opportunities; ensures public health and safety and; is in harmony with, balanced by and protective of our natural environment, including the Rights of Nature. [Emphasis Added]
The proposed charter does not define “Rights of Nature”. However, by capitalizing the term it does indicate that it is intended to be a reference to a specific requirement, not just a generalized ideal. This is particularly so given the inclusion of the term “Rights of Nature” in the Town Charter as proposed (following the words “including the”). By distinguishing it from the aspirational statement “protective of our natural environment”, it would be assumed to have an independent meaning.
This is not to suggest that this term has a defined meaning merely because it is capitalized. Arguably the term “rights of nature” has been sufficiently used in the legal lexicon to have a defined meaning whether or not it is capitalized. Such definition is based on the standards of the groups seeking to advance its principles, their efforts to encapsulate this particular doctrine into law, the court cases addressing those efforts, and scholarly publications.
Moreover, the law holds that there is no such thing as superfluous wording in a statute. As such, whether or not it is capitalized, its inclusion in a charter or bylaw indicates that it has meaning. Therefore, as the meaning of this term has not been defined in the document, it is subject to interpretation by the courts according to the law of statutory construction.
Massachusetts holds that a statute is to be interpreted "according to the intent of the Legislature ascertained from all its words construed by the ordinary and approved usage of the language, considered in connection with the cause of its enactment, the mischief or imperfection to be remedied and the main object to be accomplished, to the end that the purpose of its framers may be effectuated." Commonwealth v. Galvin, 388 Mass. 326, 328 (1983), quoting Board of Educ. v. Assessor of Worcester, 368 Mass. 511, 513 (1975). The courts first look to the plain language of the statute, see, e.g., Simon v. State Examiners of Electricians, 395 Mass. 238, 242 (1985), but also seek guidance from its legislative history, see Oxford v. Oxford Water Co., 391 Mass. 581, 587-588 (1984), quoting Commonwealth v. Welosky, 276 Mass. 398, 401-402 (1931), cert. denied, 284 U.S. 684 (1932), the language and construction of related statutes, see, e.g., Boswell v. Zephyr Lines, Inc., 414 Mass. 241, 247 (1993), and the law of other jurisdictions, see, e.g., Commonwealth v. Melton, 436 Mass. 291, 296-297 (2002); Commonwealth v. Donovan, 395 Mass. 20, 29-30 (1985).
Again, this means that where a term is included in a statute or regulation without expressly defining it, it is up to the court to decide what was intended. To do so, they will will look first to ordinary language, and where that is not clear, to other sources to determine the legislative intent (referred to legally as extrinsic evidence).
In this instance, the most likely source the courts would look to in order to determine such intent would be the presentation made to the Charter Commission by the Center for Democratic and Environmental Rights. That is because the CDER made a public presentation, was included with the Commission's Working Documents, and is the only material which references the term. As such, it would be possible for someone to argue, and even for a court to conclude, that the definition included in those materials was the definition the Charter Commission and the Town intended to adopt; which is that that ecosystems and natural communities are not merely property that can be owned. Rather, they are entities that have an independent and inalienable right to exist and flourish. Accordingly, adopting the Rights of Nature as part of our charter has the potential to legally change the status of ecosystems and natural communities to rights-bearing entities.
The effect of granting such rights is that anyone could challenge any activity which they contend violates “Nature’s” rights – which covers everything from constructing a new building down to expanding an existing septic system. If this sounds vague and confusing to you, you are not alone. That is also why efforts to enforce these types of rights have been regularly struck down by the courts throughout the United States.
The seminal case on the subject is Drewes Farms P'ship v. City of Toledo, 441 F. Supp. 3d 551 (N.D. Ohio 2020). In that case, the City of Toledo (the “City”), citing to its right of "self-government in their local community", enacted the Lake Erie Bill of Rights ("LEBOR") as an amendment to its City Charter. LEBOR provided for the right of Lake Erie and its watershed to "exist, flourish, and naturally evolve". It imposed on those violating such rights “the maximum penalty allowed under Ohio law” and gave each resident the right to seek enforcement.
Concerned that such regulation could adversely impact its operations, a private landowner brought suit against the City. The State of Ohio then intervened, joining the landowner against the City. The City made several arguments in favor of its right to enact this provision, all of which were rejected by the court.
First, the Court ruled that opened ended ‘rights of nature’ which allow for civil enforcement or criminal penalties do not meet Constitutional due process requirements, stating:
LEBOR's authors failed to make hard choices regarding the appropriate balance between environmental protection and economic activity. Instead, they employed language that sounds powerful but has no practical meaning. Under even the most forgiving standard, the environmental rights identified in LEBOR are void for vagueness.
Next, the Court rejected the argument that the City had the authority to enact such restrictions, stating that “t[h]e right of Toledoans to ‘self-government in their local community’ is impermissibly vague as well.” That was because the City sought to create rights which did not exist with the Ohio State Constitution. As a result, the Court held that “[l]ike LEBOR's environmental rights, this self-government right is an aspirational statement, not a rule of law.”
Finally, the Court rejected the argument that only those provisions which are unconstitutionally vague be invalidated, but that the rest of the provision should remain in force. The Court noted that the sum and substance of the provision was the enforcement of unspecified rights, and once those “rights are stripped away, the remainder is meaningless.”
Accordingly, after protracted litigation, the federal court struck down the entire provision as being unconstitutionally vague, and therefore legally unenforceable.
While the Dawes Farm case was the first in the United States to address the broader assertion of legal rights on behalf of nature, the environment, or an ecosystem, its holding was consistent with other court rulings from around the country rejecting efforts to enact similar types of provisions, even those narrower in scope (such as the prevention of fracking). That is because, generally, courts have found these types of provisions to be both overreaching and vague.
Typically, efforts by a locality to impose broad restrictions on the environment have been rejected by the courts under state law as being violative of the preemption doctrine (meaning another authority’s regulations take precedence) and exceeding limitations on local authority (meaning the municipality did not have the legal ability to enact such regulations). They have also been rejected on federal grounds under the supremacy of federal rights guaranteed by:
The First Amendment protection of the right to petition the government for redress, including in court;
The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights to equal protection of the laws, which guarantee that those similarly situated shall be treated similarly and prohibit irrational distinctions between those protected;
The Fifth Amendment right to Procedural Due Process, which requires notice and the opportunity to be heard before a governmental deprivation of property or liberty and includes protection against laws which are so vague that they do not give fair notice of what conduct is prohibited and increase risks of arbitrary or biased enforcement; and
The right to Substantive Due Process which safeguards the governed against arbitrary or irrational governmental action.
For these reasons, courts have held that these types of ‘Rights of Nature’ statements are appropriate as aspirational goals and general public policy language, but not as efforts to create regulatory and enforcement authority. The language in our proposed charter does not make that distinction.
Given the history of these types of provisions to date, there are significant potential ramifications to including any such language in our new Town Charter. Again, that is because our charter is a legal document, and as such all language included therein is assumed to have legal meaning. Therefore, including such language in the charter provides a basis for persons or organizations to use it as grounds for challenging otherwise permissible development. In essence, it could be used as a basis to completely override the Town Zoning Bylaw, Conservation Commission Regulations, and Building Code. Such challenges could take the form of an administrative or legal proceeding:
- by the Town or third parties against someone engaging in such development,
- by third parties against a Town board or department approving such development, or
- by someone seeking to develop property against a Town board or department for refusing such development based on enforcement of the Rights of Nature provision in the Town charter.
Finally, it should be noted that in those instances in which a municipality has sought to enforce such provisions against a developer and been challenged in court, it has been at great expense to the municipality. That is because the challenges to these types of provisions are based on state and federal constitutional rights, and therefore, the award of legal fees for any successful challenge is mandatory.
 Pa. Gen. Energy Co. v. Grant Twp., 139 F.Supp.3d 706 (W.D.Pa. 2017);
Seneca Resources Corp v. Highland Twp., 863 F.3d 245 (2017);
SWEPI V. Mora Cnty., 81 F.Supp.3d 1075 (D.NM. 2015);
Colorado Oil & Gas Assoc. v. City of Lafayette, (U.S.D.C. Den.) Case No. 13CV31746.
 For instance, in Pa. Gen. Energy Co. v. Grant Twp., 139 F.Supp.3d 706 (W.D.Pa. 2017), the Court awarded Pennsylvania Gen. Township Energy Co. over $100,000 in legal fees and court costs, which was a reduced amount agreed to by the parties because award of the actual legal fees (over $600,000) risked bankrupting Grant Township.
On January 11, 2022, the Select Board approved three non-binding ballot questions for this May which will ask the residents of Plymouth to identify which form(s) of government they want the Charter Commission to include in options for a new Town Charter. Charter Commission members who had already said before even beginning deliberations that they favored keeping Representative Town Meeting opposed the idea of hearing from the residents.
Having lost that argument, the Charter Commission hastily scheduled a vote to decide which form of government they would proceed with in the 'new' Town Charter. Not surprisingly, in a 6-3 vote, the Charter Commission elected to continue with representative town meeting. Moreover, by that same margin, the Charter Commission decided that it would not consider offering the residents another form of government, in addition to or instead of town meeting, even if the residents indicated the wanted a different form in the upcoming non-binding Town referendum. This despite having previously stated in both their own meetings and at a Select Board meeting that they intended to follow the wishes of the people.
At the Spring 2002 election, the residents were presented with the question as to whether they wanted options for the form of Town government, and if so which ones. Based on the total number of votes, the vast majority wanted at least the opportunity to consider a Town Charter that offered a City form of government (mayor/city council or Town council). Accordingly, some of the members of the Charter Commission, seeking to follow the guidance of the residents, are considering issuance of a minority report. Please remember to view any proposed Charter carefully, look for explanations provided by the Charter Commission and others as to how any proposed new Charter would function, and ask questions of anyone and everyone offering their opinions. Remember, this will be the form of government our growing Town (63,000+ people and rising) will have to live with for years, if not decades, to come.
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