ESSEX — Town Moderator Jeffery Jones has scheduled a new date and location for Annual Town Meeting.

The meeting will be held Saturday, June 13, at 10 a.m., two days earlier than previously announced.  It will take place outside on the grounds of Essex Elementary School, 12 Story St., instead of inside its gymnasium. 

"I have determined that the indoor location for the originally posted meeting cannot safely accommodate a sufficient number of people and still provide for adequate physical distancing," reads Jones's declaration on the rescheduling. "The decision to change the date and location at this time will avoid forcing voters to choose between participating in the Town Meeting and managing their health in a manner most appropriate for them."

Voters are requested to wear their own mask or face covering, although disposable masks will be available. Chairs will be set up to 6 feet apart to maintain social distancing requirements.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, Town Meeting was scheduled for May, as it typically is each year. The decision to push the date to June 15 was made by selectmen last month.

Residents will be asked to vote on regulations regarding recreational marijuana, a proposed mixed-use zoning overlay downtown area and more on the 37-article Town Meeting warrant.

Town Election will still be held Monday, June 22. In-person voting will be open from noon and 6 p.m. at Essex Memorial Fire Station, 24 Martin St. 

Massachusetts has passed legislation allowing increased voting options by mail for this election; namely by absentee ballot for any person taking precautions related to the COVID-19 emergency and by early ballot for any reason.

Absentee and early ballots are now available to be mailed; you must submit an application or any form of written communication requesting a ballot as long as it contains your actual signature or a scan of your signature. The new Town Hall drop box (located under the portico in the front of Town Hall) can be used to submit applications as well as return completed ballots.

Only a person who voted by absentee ballot may appear in person at the polls on election day to request a new ballot and may vote only if their first ballot has not yet been processed.

Absentee and early ballot applications can be downloaded from the state Secretary of the Commonwealth’s website, the town clerk’s page on the Town of Essex website, www.essexma.org, or mailed by request to the Essex town clerk.

Michael Cronin may be contacted at 978-675-2708, or mcronin@gloucestertimes.com.

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