Special Town Meeting quorum lowered to 200 voters

2019 Town Meeting. Anchor file photo

October 28, 2020 by Carol Britton Meyer

The usual quorum of 300 voters required before the first day of an Annual Town Meeting may be called to order has been lowered to 200 for the Nov. 21 Special Town Meeting, as was the case with the June Annual Town Meeting.

Upon the suggestion of Town Administrator Tom Mayo, the Selectmen voted in favor of this change at their remote meeting last night, with the support of Town Moderator Michael Puzo and Advisory Committee Chairman Robert Curley.

"I think this is the right thing to do," Mayo said before the vote. "We had 400 voters present at the June Town Meeting, but it's better to be safe than sorry. We'll be holding the meeting in a very safe environment, but I think this is a prudent move."

The June meeting was held outside on the Hingham High School multi-purpose field, and the same plan is in place for the Special Town Meeting, with social distancing and face mask requirements.

The meeting will begin at noon on the 21st, with a rain date of the following day at the same time.  if it rains again, the meeting will be held inside.

Voters will consider a warrant article that, if approved, would allow the town to move forward with the $5.5 million purchase of a parcel of land at 335 Lincoln St. for potential use as a new combined Hingham Police and Fire Department public safety building. A two-thirds vote is required for the article to pass because a borrowing is involved.

According to project supporters, the police department -- located at Town Hall -- and the North Street fire station have outgrown their current locations, and Police Chief David Jones, Fire Chief Steve Murphy, and the Public Safety Facility Building Committee have detailed the two buildings' shortcomings.

The cost of, and funding for, the project will not be the subject of a vote at this Special Town Meeting, although the most recent estimate is about $40 million. The cost would go down if the size and scope of the project were to change.

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