WELLFLEET — Many changes will be afoot at the Sept. 18 special town meeting, not all of them due to what is on the warrant.
After complaints that last spring’s town meeting was inaccessible to working people and young families, this session will be held on a Monday night, and child care will be provided for ages three and up. The quorum requirement has also been lowered to 150 voters.
Town meeting is set for September 18 at 6 p.m. in the gymnasium of Wellfleet Elementary School.
The following week, on Sept. 27, voters will head to the ballot box to elect a new member of the select board to finish out Kathleen Bacon’s term. Bacon announced her resignation in July. According to Town Clerk Jennifer Congel, the only person to take out nomination papers for the seat was Timothy Sayre, who lost to Bacon last year when she ran as a write-in.
Along with 10 bylaw amendments, voters will be asked to approve $2.7 million in Proposition 2½ overrides to fund a town planner position and a wastewater treatment facility at the Lawrence Hill housing development.
According to Article 2 on the warrant, the town plans to install a cluster wastewater treatment system to serve the new housing as well as the Wellfleet Elementary School, the police station, and the fire station. Surrounding properties will also be hooked up to the system as part of the town’s Targeted Watershed Management Plan to cut nitrogen loading in Wellfleet’s embayments.
The estimated cost of the project is $4.6 million, according to Town Administrator Rich Waldo; $3.5 million will cover planning and construction of the facility, and the remaining $1.1 million will pay for connecting properties to the system.
Voters already approved $1.93 million at the 2021 town meeting to build the facility. Additional authorization from voters will allow the town to seek borrowing from the Clean Water Trust, a revolving fund that awards grants of up to 25 percent of the total project cost from the Cape and Islands Water Protection Fund.
That’s a just-in-case scenario, though. If the town succeeds in getting a grant to fund the construction of the facility through the MassWorks Infrastructure Program, the town will not need to borrow. The town expects to receive notice of a grant award by November, according to the warrant.
An override of $145,000 would fund a town planner’s job at town hall. Wellfleet is currently one of the only Cape Cod communities without one. Article 4 says the town planner would support the building commissioner and zoning board of appeals in enforcing zoning regulations as well as assisting in developing bylaws.
Planning is currently assigned to the assistant town administrator, a position that is “overburdened,” the warrant says. “The lack of a dedicated town planner results in the burnout of staff.”
The assistant town administrator job is currently being filled by David Colton as an interim, after Rebecca Roughly resigned at the end of June.
Select board member Ryan Curley told the Maurice’s Campground committee on July 26 that the town planner would help perform the duties that would have been assigned to the housing coordinator, a new position defeated at the annual town election by 17 votes.
Both the town planner position and the Lawrence Hill wastewater treatment funding will require a two-thirds majority at town meeting and a majority vote at the special town election on Sept. 27.
Article 3 on the warrant would amend an existing borrowing article from the 2021 annual town meeting to fund an Innovative/Alternative septic system subsidy program. The article would allow borrowing from the Clean Water Trust.
Ten bylaw amendment proposals will also come before voters on Sept. 18, eight of which were requested by the select board.
An inclusionary zoning proposal, Article 5, would require developers to reserve a percentage of units in new developments to be rented or sold affordably or to pay a fee to the Wellfleet Affordable Housing Trust.
Article 7 is an amendment pertaining to the intensity of use of multi-family dwellings and would eliminate the requirement to have 8,000 square feet of additional land for every added dwelling unit in any given development in the commercial district.
Three tree-related bylaws, Articles 8, 9, and 10, would add exemptions to the prohibition of cutting timber in the National Seashore as well as the cutting of notable trees, defined as native trees with a girth of 120 or more inches.
Article 12 would ban the sale of nips, or miniature single-serve liquor bottles made of plastic or glass. According to the warrant article, nips are a pervasive littering problem; a study conducted in Falmouth in 2021 found that nips accounted for 32 percent of roadside garbage. Nips are banned in Falmouth, Mashpee, Nantucket, and two Martha’s Vineyard towns.
Two bylaw amendments in Articles 13 and 14 were requested by Animal Control Officer Jacob Berrick. They would require dog owners to register dogs within 30 days of adoption and would allow dogs to visit town cemeteries. They would also prohibit owners from leaving pets unattended in their vehicles and would prohibit dogs from lifeguarded portions of town beaches and ponds between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. during the summer.
The Wellfleet Community Forum will host a Pre-Town Meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 12 at 7 p.m. at the Adult Community Center with Town Moderator Dan Silverman presiding.