Proposal would require more signatures for citizens petitions in Lenox


LENOX >> The Select Board is weighing a proposal that would raise the bar for a citizens petition to make it on to the warrant of an annual town meeting.

In most towns, according to state law, only 10 certified signatures of registered voters are needed to place a citizens petition on the warrant. In the proposal crafted by Town Manager Christopher, Lenox would require a minimum of 100 signatures.

Ketchen prepared the proposal "in response to complaints from several residents that it should be harder to get a citizens petition on the warrant."

"It's a pretty significant change," said Select Board Chairman Edward Lane. If the board approves it, voters would determine its fate at the May 5 annual town meeting.

"I come from California, where citizens' initiatives have screwed up the entire electoral process," said Selectman Channing Gibson. "While I believe in them, I think they need broad support and be well-vetted in terms of where they're coming from. So I happen to be for this."

"It seems to be problematic here," Selectman David Roche said.

"It's a high mark for citizens petitions, but I think it should be," Gibson said.

"We're reacting to last year's warrant and a couple of years prior," Ketchen said, adding that "I was confronted by multiple folks asking why it's different for a special town meeting than an annual meeting. I didn't have a good answer. Perhaps this is the year to have that conversation."

If the proposal is adopted by town meeting voters, the state Legislature also would need to approve it.

At least 100 signatures are required to add a citizens' petition to the warrant for a scheduled special town meeting.

The Select Board is expected to review warrant articles for the annual town meeting this Wednesday evening at 7.

Contact Clarence Fanto at 413-637-2551.


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