SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

April 4, 2014

Wenham Town Meeting to consider historic district, appointed town clerk

By John Castelluccio
Staff Writer

---- — WENHAM — Town voters will gather at the Buker School’s Perkins Auditorium on Saturday at 1 p.m. to decide on a $15.7 million budget and 18 other warrant articles at the Annual Town Meeting.

The spending proposal calls for using $600,000 in free cash and $250,000 from an education stabilization fund to offset an increase in property taxes. As it is, homeowners are expected to see an average $123 tax hike with the new budget.

A Special Town Meeting will convene at 1:05 p.m. to allow the Education Stabilization Fund to receive $576,000 being turned back to the town by the Hamilton-Wenham Regional School Committee. The district is turning over a similar amount to Hamilton.

Among the warrant articles is a proposal to reduce the size of the regional school committee from nine to seven members over the next two years, convert the office of Town Clerk to an appointed position, adopt a historic district bylaw and set aside community preservation funds for the restoration of the Patton Park pool.

There is no dollar amount attached to the pool item, but the Community Preservation Act Committee is expected to offer a recommendation.

There is also a request to use community preservation money to partially fund an affordable housing project for seniors at the rear of 62 Maple St. The project is proposed by Harborlight Community Partners for 60 single units in one building and would put the town over the state threshold for Chapter 40B housing.

The creation of a historic district in town would be accompanied by the formation of a seven-member Wenham Historical Commission with a mission to preserve and protect town history and historical properties.

There is also an article to reduce the minimum land parcel size from five acres to three to qualify for an agricultural exemption.

The full warrant for Town Meeting can be found on the town’s website at www.wenhamma.gov.

You can reach John Castelluccio at 978-338-2527, jcastelluccio@salemnews.com or via Twitter at @SNjcastelluccio.