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Lee takes a step closer to an open town meeting form of government at special town meeting

Lee Town Hall

Former Selectman Gordon Bailey and newcomer to local politics Robert Wright have joined activist and businesswoman Anne Langlais to battle it out to succeed Patricia Carlino on the Lee Select Board in the May 16 annual town election.

LEE — Lee is a step closer to having an open town meeting form of government.

With little debate, town representatives by a 37-2 vote at Thursday’s special town meeting agreed to eliminate all references to town representatives in the town bylaws. The update also increased the number of people required for a quorum to hold an annual or special town meeting from 30 to 50.

The revision also allows town meeting voters to reconsider votes taken at an annual or special town meeting of any article voted up or down.

The return to open town meeting for the first time in nearly 60 years will take effect if a townwide referendum passes at annual town election in May. Lee implemented the town meeting representative form of government in the late 1960s.

Representatives narrowly rejected a plan to spend an additional $75,000 to conduct an update of a 20-year-old municipal master plan. The money was to be added to the $50,000 already set aside to do the study. It was unclear whether the town would go ahead with the master plan update.

Other key articles on the warrant approved:

• Establishing bylaws to create a nine-person Community Preservation Committee that will recommend uses of money collected for that purpose through property taxes.

• Changes to the town administrator charter that include formally changing the name of the Board of Selectmen to the Select Board; also, no person can hold two elected positions in Lee at the same time and no full-time Lee town employee can hold an elected office in Lee.

• Spending more than $15,000 in available town cemetery funds to repair fallen or broken headstones.

• Readopting the town’s zoning bylaws, which have been updated.

• Zoning changes that include: the ability to create a parking lot without it being tied to a project; making it easier to allow a limited number farm animals in more densely populated areas (such as poultry and bees) and allow for kennels; and having the building inspector issue permits for permanent signs.

Dick Lindsay can be reached at rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com.

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