Bundled up in winter coats and hats on a Saturday afternoon in early May, 206 town meeting voters braved chilly weather to put their stamp of approval on most of the 17 warrant articles before them.
During the four-hour marathon May 8 session on the Hull High School athletic field, the voters approved a range of changes, from modifying the town’s charter and bylaws to include gender-neutral terms to authorizing the newly named Select Board to petition the Legislature for additional liquor licenses as new business development continues apace around town. (See related sidebar for other votes.)
By far the longest discussion centered around two citizen’s petitions, one submitted by Henry Dunn and others and the second one submitted by John King and others, seeking to significantly reduce the minimum lot size in the entire Single-Family – B Zoning District from 12,000 to 8,000 square feet in Dunn’s petition and seeking to rezone certain neighborhoods in a Single-Family – B Zoning District into a Single-Family – A Zoning District, which would reduce the required minimum lot in the rezoned neighborhoods from 12,000 square feet to 6,500 square feet, along with lowering the lot frontage requirement.
In presenting his case, Dunn pointed out that he and his family are longtime Hull residents and that he would like to be able to sell part of his property. “It’s getting more and more expensive to live here,” he said.
Dunn’s article, if passed, would have had the potential to impact more than 1,600 lots, many of which could then have been divided and/or combined over time to add new buildable lots.
A substitute motion by Planning Board Chairman Steven White to refer the article back to the Planning Board, which had reviewed the article earlier, and to the Zoning Bylaw Subcommittee for further study, and to report back at the next annual town meeting, passed after a nearly one-hour discussion.
Polly Rowe spoke in support of the substitute motion, noting that a large percentage of residents may not have been aware of the article and its potential ramifications. If they had been, she said, “this field would be jam-packed like sardines.”
Danielle Dolan said allowing more houses to potentially be built on large lots that could be subdivided would be a way “to recruit more families to Hull and to increase the school population.
“We have a lot of apartments and condos, but we don’t accommodate families,” she said. “Hull has always been a welcoming community. Let’s not turn into a NIMBY [not in my backyard] town. We need more houses in Hull now.”
The majority of the Advisory Board recommended “unfavorable action” on Dunn’s article based in large part on the fact that Hull residents and property owners have invested in their neighborhoods over the years and that such a change could result in long-term negative impacts.
In commenting on his citizen’s petition before the vote, King said he would like to be allowed to build a home for his son, “who plans to stay” in Hull. He noted that his warrant article applied to only a small section of town, affecting about 109 lots.
Nevertheless, in its recommendation in the warrant, the Advisory Board expressed concerns about the potential long-term adverse impacts the article, if passed, could have on neighborhoods and individual households, “for the benefit of a few.”
A substitute motion for a study did not pass, but voters approved King’s original rezoning request by a narrow margin.
In other business at the meeting, voters unanimously approved seven Community Preservation Act articles recommended by the Community Preservation Committee as follows:
* $15,000 to repair, repaint, and re-install the Paragon Carousel’s wood railings;
* $173,000 to rehabilitate the recreational area at the Hampton Circle Playground on Moreland Avenue;
• $10,100 for beach Mobi Mats for easier accessibility;
• $31,000 for repairs to the Ann Scully Senior Center;
• $10,000 for identification and way-finding signage;
• $10,000 for Fort Revere storyboards and signage; and
• $45,000 to rehabilitate the Town Hall entrance.