ROCKPORT — Rockporters at Fall Town Meeting Monday night voted to create a revolving tuition fund for nonresident students at Rockport schools, which means foreign exchange students now have a means with which to pay the school and are able to come study in Rockport.
About 300 voters had gathered at the meeting, held at Rockport’s high school, to decide on issues from controversial adjustments to the town’s site plan review bylaw to the disbursement of Community Preservation Funds and dealings with a nonprofit developer seeking to purchase Broadway High School Apartments. Those issues were still being debated as of press time.
No voters opposed the motion of Article E to create the student tuition account.
Tuition will be deposited into the accounts, then the money in the account will be used to pay for any expenses related to the students’ schooling.
Town Administrator Linda Sanders had said at an August selectmen’s meeting that the account would generally be appropriated by the school committee. But, in order to accept a particular foreign exchange student from Italy, the process of creating the account needed be expedited, and the process was quickened with selectmen’s adding it to the warrant
The most controversial Monday night promised to focus on a series of articles focusing on reshaping the town’s site plan review process regarding home demolition projects.
In the weeks leading up to the meeting, town boards and committees flocked to one side or the other of site plan review articles, which would basically grant the Planning Board the ability to monitor house demolitions, create parameters for reviewing plans and outline the Planning Board’s objectives and expectations for newly built and renovated structures.
The Planning Board, which proposed six site plan review articles, hoped to pass all in favor of tighter regulations that would ensure neighbors’ awareness of demolitions and proper processes for demolitions.
A petitioning citizens’ group, called Preserve Rockport, proposed three articles of its own. Both the group and the Planning Board contributed articles pertaining to setting review thresholds based on a home’s age and square footage. But, at a Planning Board meeting last Thursday, Kenyon announced if the board’s articles first passed, he would not motion a vote on the petitioners correlating articles.
“We have no pride of authorship. We actually really appreciate that the Planning Board has engaged in this over the past few months and has created their own articles,” Kenyon said.
The Finance Committee, perhaps leading the opposition, wrote a recommendation against the expanded site plan review, saying it would discourage residents and potential residents from buying and building in Rockport. Committee Vice Chairman Wally Hess had said that Rockport needs do everything possible to attract new residents.
“It’s not exactly opening a door or closing a door. It’s just another impediment,” Hess said last week. “It’s just another thing that holds people back, and I think that’s the unintended consequence, the most major one.”
For updates regarding the site plan review articles and other Town Meeting votes, look later today to online updates at gloucestertimes.com. For full Town Meeting coverage, look to tomorrow’s print and online editions of the Gloucester Daily Times and gloucestertimes.com.
Marjorie Nesin can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3451, or at email@example.com.