Canton's 2015 Annual Town Meeting starts tonight. Call me a geek, a political junkie or someone who needs to get a life....but I look forward to Town Meeting every year!
Canton MA has an Open Town Meeting form of government. There is a five-member Board of Selectmen who run the town and oversee the town administrator, but the legislative body is made up of the citizens of Canton. All registered voters in Canton MA are eligible to attend and vote at the Annual Town Meeting.
Annual Town Meeting commences tonight, Monday May 11th at 7:00 pm at Canton High's Morse Auditorium. It runs until approximately 11:00 pm and runs every consecutive Monday and Wednesday until all items in the Warrant have been voted.
The 2015 Annual Town Meeting is a big one for Canton. The meeting will start off with a Special Town Meeting to discuss all articles related to the Plymouth Rubber Project. Usually, warrant articles are discussed at random but this is a big proposal that has a lot of related articles so they have decided to group the articles together and tackle them first.
The Plymouth Rubber site is an old industrial site, former home to the Plymouth Rubber Company, a manufacturer of a variety of vinyl and rubber electric tape. In about 2006, Plymouth Rubber moved operations out of Canton and the site has been vacant since. The land was purchased and the new owner has been trying to develop it for years. Previous proposals have been voted down at town meetings in the past. This year, however, the developer and the town worked closely to come up with a plan that was satisfactory to all parties.
Plymouth Rubber is uniquely sited on land that is home to Paul Rever's Copper Rolling Mill and Paul Revere's Barn. Both are in need of repair as they've been neglected for years. Both are historic buildings for obvious reasons. In addition, the site is bordered by the Neponset River and has water flowing through it that was originally diverted by Paul Revere to operate his copper mill.
The current plan calls for the Paul Revere Barn and Rolling Mill to be restored and turned over to the Town of Canton, along with a large area of open space. The Neponset River will be opened up with a walkway for running, biking and walking. There will be a bridge over the river, connecting to the roadway across the river, opening up easy pedestrian and vehicular access to the Canton Junction commuter rail station located down the street.
In addition, there will be a variety of residential housing built - townhouses, over-55 apartments, condos and affordable housing units. There is also a small commercial space in the development, along with proposals for a daycare center. Most importantly, the environmental hazards that are present on site as a result of years of the manufacturing operations, will be cleaned up prior to the above work being started. Environmental studies have been done and the State Department of Environmental Protection has been involved.
Overall, it seems to be a win-win. There are fewer residential units than in any other prior proposal. The environmental issues are addressed. The town will get some very nice open space, not to mention the restoration and use of two historic buildings. The developer will finally be able to develop the land.
The article requires some zoning changes as the land is currently zoned industrial. This too would be a good thing for the town as under current zoning, any kind of industrial use could be put in there without any say by the town. Located near the center of Canton, it is no longer the right location for industrial use. This article has been supported by all of Canton's town boards and committees - which is a rare occurrence. For more information on the Plymouth Rubber site visit plymouthrubberyes.com or the Town of Canton website.
This is an important decision and I hope many Canton residents will attend. Once the Plymouth Rubber articles are voted, they will move on to the other articles which also impact zoning, town budget, schools and more.
I find it to be an interesting and entertaining event to attend, not to mention my civic responsibility. How often does a citizen get to make decisions that will directly impact the quality of life in his or her community?