WVN Alert: School measure passes easily; Town Center reconsideration?
- Dear Wayland Voter,
The proposal to borrow for a new $71 million High School passed easily at a special Town Meeting Wednesday night. But in an extraordinary climax marked by shouting and insults a proposed zoning change that could affect the future of the Town Center project fell short of the required two-thirds majority on a re-vote.
Champions of the Town Center are expected to move for reconsidering the article when Town Meeting resumes Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
WVN will report fully when the 10-article Town Meeting concludes. This will bring you up to date.
Article 3, which reduces the amount of affordable housing in the Town Center, was debated vigorously before a motion to close debate was carried on a vote close enough to require a standing count. Voters lined up at both the pro and con microphones lost the chance to be heard.
The vote on the article itself passed on a vote so close that some citizens immediately questioned the totals. The head count, 553-271, represented 67.11 percent, barely the two-thirds required for passage. Tellers work in teams, but mistakes are possible.
The renovated field house interior makes it harder for attendees to see and hear. Longer rows of seats make vote-counting slower. Vote-counting and procedural discussions consumed most of the time between 9:30 and 11 p.m..
Statutes require an immediate re-vote when seven voters question the accuracy of the total. But Selectmen Joe Nolan and Michael Tichnor, surprised by the citizens' move and aware that many Yes voters had left, tried to move for an immediate adjournment until Thursday before Article 3 had been declared disposed as specified in Moderator's rules printed in the warrant, page 34.
Despite howls of protest, Moderator Peter Gossels, after consulting rules, statutes and the town counsel, ruled that the vote must take place. This time the result was 297-216 and the article failed.
A motion for reconsideration is subject to debate, but rules call for it to be deferred to the end of Town Meeting. Furthermore, reconsideration -- the chance to vote yet again -- requires a showing of "significant new information" about the article that hadn't been disclosed to voters earlier.
Town Center proponents can be expected to turn out as many like-minded voters as possible. Within two hours after the Wednesday session ended, the political action group SOSWayland sent an email to followers calling the re-vote "a travesty of democracy" and raising the groundless fear "Is H.S. vote at risk too?" The high school proposal, Article 2, prevailed by a 1481-95 margin. Nobody questioned its accuracy.
After the high school article passed, there was thunderous applause (despite Gossels' admonitions that applause violates Town mneeting rules) followed by the exodus of about half of the crowd. SOS and the ballot question committee Yes4WHS had asked supporters to stay for Articles 3-5, the zoning article, another Town Center-related article and a measure estimated to raise about $165,000 annually through a local meals tax.