Rockport Town Meeting votes down “zoning preamble” | News

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ROCKPORT — With 15 zoning questions on the Special Town Meeting warrant Wednesday night, one might have thought voters would be in for a long night.

They would have been right.

The meeting, held in the Rockport High School gymnasium, considered a slew of zoning bylaws from a measure to designate whether special permits should be issued by the Zoning Board of Appeals or the Planning Board (Article I) to an article that clarifies how building height and half-story height are calculated (Article J).

The meeting, slated to begin at 5:30 p.m., was delayed due to a lack of a quorum.

By 6:01 p.m. enough of the town’s registered voters had showed up for the meeting to begin.

According to Jason Shaw, chair of the Planning Board, the warrant itself was made up of more than 60 pages, aimed at cleaning up much out-of-date language in the former zoning bylaw. He said the meeting’s aim was to “… update and improve the zoning bylaws in town.”

“With a few exceptions, all of the changes that are going to be made are the same changes that (were proposed) in May of last year,” said Shaw. “We’ve taken what was one article, which was confusing to some people and we’ve (changed) that article into 15 separate articles. It’s much more digestible to the public.”

Town Meeting voters approved Article A, allowing the town to raise and appropriate and transfer a sum of money to pay unpaid bills of previous fiscal years.

After the first vote, a resident challenged the quorum total and a recount ensued. A quorum was recorded with 168 people present and the meeting proceeded.

In Article B, the body decided to back a plan to raise money to add to the appropriation made under Articles 5, 5A, 5B, 6, 6A and/or 6B of the April 2, 2002, annual Town Meeting.

Article D asked those gathering to approve or deny the reorganization and renumbering of the zoning bylaws.

Shaw told those present the zoning bylaws had been previously considered at a previous Town Meeting.

“I think Article D should be a quick decision,” he said. “It’s so we can have a more coherent bylaw.”

The measure passed with 90% of the vote total.

Article E contains an updated Statement of Purpose at the beginning of the bylaws.

“Article E is a statement of purpose,” said Shaw. “It’s simply a more up to date preamble than what exists now. It generally describes what the zoning laws are in the town of Rockport.

Shaw pointed to a number of admirable traits in Article E, including the preservation of land.

“Doesn’t this language reflect what is wanted in the town?” he asked.

Resident Amy Seabrook said the measure was important because of the challenges related to climate change.

“We all want the town better going into the future,” she said. “We could design our way forward together.”

This article failed by 101-60.

The meeting was still underway at the Times’ presstime. For complete coverage, visit and see Friday’s print edition.

Stephen Hagan can be reached at 978-675-2708 or at

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