Pooper-scooper rule approved.
NORTH BROOKFIELD - Three dozen voters last night approved a pooper-scooper amendment to the dog-control bylaw, a downtown overlay district to encourage the establishment of cottage businesses, and borrowing money to continue the second phase of inspecting Horse Pond Dam.
Unexpectedly, before the meeting took up the 13 articles, James J. Foyle, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, gave voters, and those who will watch the meeting on local cable access, a pep talk on the state of the town finances.
Citing a litany of troubling financial news and projections from Beacon Hill, coupled with the likelihood of falling local revenue, Mr. Foyle said selectmen and the Finance Committee have called upon all town departments to begin thinking about how to cut 5 percent to 10 percent next year from what they are now spending.
Mr. Foyle said he was optimistic the town would not have to lay off any personnel, noting that some departments, such as the Highway Department, were already operating with a minimum of workers.
Mr. Foyle said that by starting the process now for next year's budget, he would hope the town would meet its obligations head-on and would not be recommending any deferrals, as was the case with the Group Insurance account.
The dog nuisance amendment requires dog owners to remove and dispose of "in a sanitary manner" any dog waste left on any sidewalk, street, park, cemetery, schoolyard, other public area or private property other than the dog owner's.
The bylaw further prohibits anyone from walking a dog in public without the means for appropriately removing and disposing of dog waste.
The bylaw states that the Police Department or the animal control officer may enforce the new provision.
The amendment, put on the warrant by citizen petition, passed with little discussion.
Voters approved the North Brookfield Downtown Overlay District, which will build upon historic development patterns in the town center to create an attractive neighborhood and "encourage adaptive reuse of abandoned, vacant or underutilized buildings or structures where appropriate."
Steve Cummings, chairman of the Planning Board, said the overlay district is based on recommendations included in the town master plan. It will also simplify the process by which small businesses could more easily be integrated into the mixed business and residential neighborhoods downtown.
Voters approved a bylaw change requiring that any department bringing a matter before town meeting for a vote must have a representative present to explain the request, or no action would be taken.
The bylaw was approved, despite some question as to whether the wording of the article might hamper important business or financial issues to come before the meeting.
James Caldwell, a former selectman, said his amendment was simply to make people responsible for their actions.
"If a department has an article on the warrant, they had best have someone here to explain it," he said.
Voters approved several transfers and $15,250 for the Police Design Interest account.