GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

November 20, 2012

Voters OK $50K for more Conomo legal costs

Article to fund legal work regarding Conomo Point passes 52-33

By James Niedzinski
Staff Writer

---- — ESSEX — The 85 voters who turned out for Essex’s special Fall Town Meeting Monday night gave their approval to 10 of the 13 warrant articles, including authorizing another $50,000 for the town’s legal work regarding the properties at Conomo Point.

Town Administrator Brendhan Zubricki said the legal costs from July amounted to money well spent, but added that the town’s law firm — the Boston-based Kopelman and Paige — had been very busy dealing with Conomo Point since that time, which marked the start of the new fiscal year.

“There were various tax board appeals, lawsuits, voter registration cases and eviction cases since then,” he said.

Voters were split over the issue. At first, residents yelled “yay” and “nay” back and forth, until Town Moderator Rolf Madsen finally had to ask voters to stand up for an accurate vote. That action showed the article passed with a 52-33 vote for approval.

Prior to the Town Meeting Monday night, Selectman also signed off on four additional purchase and sale agreements in the southern section of Conomo Point.

Zubricki said the Board of Selectman hope to have all 39 agreements in the southern half ready to be sold to tenants by the end of the year. Selectmen have already signed off on 34 purchase-and-sale agreements and deeds, he said.

In addition, the town is offering so-called bridge leases to the 60 properties in the Northern section of Conomo point next year, Zubricki said. He added, however, that rezoning and creating subdivisions of the property will be a lengthy process over the next couple of years.

During the Special Meeting, there was a vote slated to see if the town would enter an agreement with the mosquito control company, Northeast Massachusetts Mosquito Control and Wetlands Management District of Newburyport.

Jack Card, the director of the mosquito control company, made his plea to voters.

“The viruses and threats we have now are becoming more severe,” he said. Card said one year of service, which includes spraying for mosquitoes which carry Eastern equine encephalitis and West Nile Virus, would cost about $38,000.

However, Madsen ruled the article out of order, and said the residents did not have enough notice about the presentation to make an appropriate vote.

Other articles that did gain approval included spending $137,000 to fund Town Hall and library improvements, about $15,000 to repair the roof of the fire department and $15,000 appropriated to the town retirement trust fund.

In addition, Essex Police were awarded $15,500 for 15 new bullet proof vests, $37,000 to replace a police cruiser and $6,724 to additional police details.

Voters also approved a measure allowing residents to purchase more water and sewer usage from the town for a one-time fee.

James Niedzinski can be reached at 978-283-7000, x 3455 or at jniedzinski@gloucestertimes.com.