The By-Law Review Committee was established under Article 25 of the General By-Laws. The principal function of the By-Law Review Committee is to review proposals for General By-Law changes. It is not charged with the task of proposing substantive changes on its own. If requested by the Selectmen or another Town Board or officer, the Committee will assist in drafting amendments or additions to the General By-Laws that are proposed for inclusion in the Warrant for any Town Meeting. The Committee is also charged with the duty of reporting to the Town
Meeting any recommendations it considers appropriate on any article in a Town Meeting Warrant that proposes an amendment or addition to the General By-Laws.
In 2002 prior to the Annual Town Meeting, the Committee reviewed warrant articles relating to the financial management of the Town (Article 18), an amendment to the Town Clerk’s fee bylaw (Article 19), an amendment and restatement of the Town’s noise bylaw (Article 20), an amendment which would have increased the membership of the Board of Selectmen from three to five (Article 24) and a proposal (Article 27) requiring that the Town provide Belmont voters with quarterly reports on the Town’s affairs.
The Committee approved Article 18 in form and suggested that the proposed bylaw be placed in the General By-Laws either as new Article 28 or as Article 20, renumbering subsequent articles in the By-Laws. Article 18 was dismissed from the warrant.
The Committee approved Article 19 as to form and placement in the General By-Laws. The changes in the Town Clerk’s fee schedule were unanimously approved. The Committee notes that under M.G.L., chapter 40, section 22F, the Town may delegate to the Town Clerk authority to amend the fee schedule. A future Town Meeting may wish to consider giving the Town Clerk this authority rather than requiring her to come back to Town Meeting each time a change in the fee schedule is proposed.
The new noise bylaw was approved as to form and placement in the General By-Laws and subsequently approved by Town Meeting. The Chair of the Committee, speaking at Town Meeting, commended the committee that rewrote the bylaw for a well-crafted bylaw. A number of amendments to the proposed bylaw were presented at Town Meeting, some of which were approved and others of which were defeated. None of these amendments was screened by the Committee. The Committee believes that, if it were given the opportunity to review proposed bylaw amendments, it could do its job more effectively and that its review of them would hopefully result in better-written bylaws.
The Committee took no position on Article 24, which was defeated by Town Meeting. It also took no position on Article 27, which was not presented in the form of an amendment to the General By-Laws.
Charles M. Hamann, Chair