Thursday, November 21, 2013

Bylaw Brigandry?

Councilor Nikolla
Apparently there are some things that former Town Council Chairman Nikolla has learned.

One is clearly how to undertake a major project and keep the product out of public view until it is a fait accompli.

Such is the case with the work of the Bylaw Review Committee.

The lesson learned came from the experience of the Charter Review Committee (CRC).

Throughout its year-long history the CRC saw to it that its work and progress were chronicled on the town website. Three televised public hearings on its work were held. Its proposed revisions were published on the town website for all to see and review.

The result of such transparency was the virtually complete dismissal of the CRC’s work in two meetings of the General Government subcommittee under Councilor Nikolla’s Chairmanship.

By contrast the Bylaw Review Committee, which she appointed, held no broadcast public meetings. Its work was chronicled only in the sparsest degree by the local media. Its final product remains a mystery to most everyone. It’s not available on the town website as was the final report of the CRC.

In fact, the agenda that was prepared for the November 7 meeting where this final report was to be reviewed contained an astonishing admonition in red:

Now the town Charter is, to many, an abstract document. It has, in many ways, as much every day impact on the average citizen as the U. S. Constitution.

The bylaws, however, have frequent and measurable impact on the daily lives of town residents.

Remember all those trash fines? They’re in the bylaws. Your dog licensing? That’s in the bylaws. That addition to your house? That’s in the Zoning Bylaws.

The former Council Chairman, now the Chairman of the General Government Subcommittee, reported at the Town Council Meeting on November 18:

Well, let us be thankful that she replicated her previously demonstrated abhorrence for long meetings. At least there’s a chance to find out what’s in store before it’s too late.

Shouldn’t we “pigs and barnyard animals”, as she once referred to her fellow Southbridge residents, have the opportunity to examine what’s in that report?

It should be available on the town website for all of us to review before there is another subcommittee meeting to review it and make recommendations.

I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with the work of this committee or what they are recommending. What I am saying is that we should have freely available what changes they have made to the existing bylaws.

If you agree, contact your town councilors and demand this.

Just in case you feel that this doesn’t concern you, here’s a list of the contents of the town’s bylaws and the town’s zoning bylaws:

Southbridge Bylaws - Contents

Section 1-101 By-laws—Definition, Enacting Style
1-102 How Code Designated and Cited
1-103 Rules of Construction and Definitions
1-104 When These Rules of Construction Shall Not Apply
1-105 References to Titles, Chapters, or Sections
1-106 Conflicting Provisions
1-107 Publication of General By-laws
1-108 When By-laws to Take Effect
1-109 Code Not to Affect Prior Offenses, Rights, etc.
1-110 Effect of Repeal of By-laws
1-111 Violations and Penalty - Municipal Infractions – Noncriminal
1-112 Violations and Penalty – Misdemeanors
1-113 By-laws, Recording of
1-114 Supplementation of the Code
1-115 Code Book to be Kept Up-to-date
1-116 Copies of By-laws
1-117 Future By-laws
1-118 Severability
Section 2-100 Elections
2-101 Officers to be Elected
2-102 Eligibility for Elected Office
2-103 Date of Town Election
2-104 Hours Polls are to be Open
2-105 Terms of Office
2-106 Annual Reports
2-200 Town Council
2-201 Powers, In General
2-202 Meetings of the Town Council
2-300 Town Clerk
2-301 Powers, In General
2-400 School Committee
2-401 Powers, In General
2-500 Board of Assessors
2-501 Powers, In General
2-600 Regional Vocational School Committee
2-601 Southern Worcester County Regional Vocational School Committee
2-700 Southbridge Housing Authority
2-701 Powers, In General
2-800 Southbridge Redevelopment Authority
2-801 Powers, In General
Section 3-100 Standard Provisions
3-101 Officers, Other Officials and Multiple Member Bodies
3-102 Term of Office
3-103 Council Review and Confirmation of Certain Appointments
3-104 Multiple Member Body Internal Organization
3-105 Time and Place of Meetings
3-106 Meetings with Town Manager
3-107 Filing of Minutes
3-108 References to Statutes
3-109 Reorganization Plans Submitted by the Town Manager
3-200 Multiple Member Bodies
3-201 Aging, Council on
3-202 Airport Commission
3-203 Appeals, Board of Zoning
3-204 Building & Other Facilities Planning & Construction Committee
3-205 Cable TV Advisory Committee
3-206 Conservation Commission
3-207 Cultural Council
3-208 Disabilities, Commission on
3-209 Health, Board of
3-210 Historical Commission
3-211 Library Trustees, Board of
3-212 Liquor Licensing Board
3-213 Local Historic District Study Committee
3-214 Planning Board
3-215 Recreation Committee
3-216 Registrars of Voters, Board of
3-217 Retirement Board, Contributory
3-218 Scholarship and Education Committee
3-219 Southbridge Trails Committee
3-220 Special Permit Granting Authority
3-221 Trustees of Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen Memorials
3-222 Agricultural Commission
3-223 Economic Development Commission
3-300 Town Office or Position
3-301 Accountant, Town
3-302 Animal Control Officer
3-303 Animal Inspector
3-304 Assessor, Principal
3-305 Attorney, Town
3-306 Building Inspector, Director of Inspectional Services
3-307 Civil Defense Director/Emergency Management Director
3-308 Collector, Town
3-309 Constables
3-310 Economic Development and Planning, Director of
3-311 Elder Services, Director of
3-312 Finance, Director of
3-313 Fire Chief
3-314 Municipal Hearings Officer
3-315 Parking Clerk
3-316 Plumbing and Gas, Inspector of
3-317 Police Chief
3-318 Procurement Officer, Chief
3-319 Public Works, Director of
3-320 Sealer of Weights and Measures
3-321 Treasurer, Town
3-322 Veteran’s Services Director
3-323 Wire Inspector
Section 4-101 Records and Reports of Administrative Activities
4-102 Records and Reports on Financial Matters
4-103 Publication and Distribution of Annual Town Report
4-201 Duties and Authority of the Town Manager
4-301 Ethical Standards of the Town of Southbridge
4-401 Town Vehicles to be Designated as Such
4-501 Town Seal
Section 5-101 Annual Audit
5-102 Denial or Revocation of Licenses, Permits, etc., of Delinquent
5-103 Due Dates for Payments to Town, Interest on Unpaid Balances
5-104 Fees and Charges by Municipal Agencies
5-105 Purchasing and Other Procurements
5-106 Trust Funds
5-107 Employee Off-Duty Work Details
5-108 Disposal of Surplus Property
5-109 Municipal Charges Lien
Section 6-100 Solicitors, Junk Dealers and Pawnbrokers
6-101 Licensing of Solicitors, Canvassers and Peddlers
6-102 Licensing of Dealers in Junk, Old Metals & 2nd Hand Goods
6-103 Special Fencing Regulation Affecting Certain Dealers in
Salvage or Scrap Metals
6-104 Licensing of Pawnbrokers
6-200 Keeping of Pets
6-20l Licensing of Dogs
6-202 Rabies Control
6-203 Removal of Dog Litter
6-300 Automatic Amusement Devices
6-301 Licensing of Automatic Amusement Devices
6-400 Operation of Bicycles
6-401 Inspection and Registration of Bicycles
Section 7-100 Issuance of Licenses or Permits
7-101 Permits, In General
7-102 Regulation of Overhanging Objects/Devices
7-103 Obstructions in Public Way
7-104 Regulation of Leaves, Garden Trimmings, etc., in Public Way
7-105 Painting, Printing, etc., Figures or Pictures on Sidewalk
7-106 Distribution of Certain Materials in Public Ways
7-107 Restrictions on Playing Musical Instruments, Public
            Gatherings in Public Ways
7-108 Regulation of Digging in Public Ways
7-109 Regulation of Use of Public Areas for Assembly, Parades, etc.
7-110 Regulation of Use of Sound Trucks, etc.
7-111 Restrictions on Use of Vehicles in/on Certain Town Owned Land
7-112 Repair or Removal of Buildings Abutting Public Way
7-113 Hoisting Materials over Public Ways
7-200 Operation of Motor Vehicles
7-201 No Parking During Street Sweeping Operations
7-202 Inoperable Motor Vehicles in Public Ways
7-203 Parking of Vehicles in Excess of Certain Width/Height on Public Ways
7-204 Moving Buildings
7-205 Motor Scooters
7-206 Traffic Rules and Regulations
7-300 Regulations Affecting Pedestrians and Persons ‘on foot’
7-301 Use of Pubic Ways by Pedestrians
7-302 Prohibition of Possession of Intoxicating Liquors and Medical Marijuana
            in Public Places
7-303 Regulation of Coasting in Public Ways
7-304 Prohibition of Use of Certain Articles/Devices on Sidewalks
7-305 Prohibition of Play, Games, Sport, Other Activities in Public Ways
7-400 Regulations Affecting Owners/Occupants of Property
7-401 Care of Public Property, Buildings and Water Bodies
7-402 Regulation of Swinging Objects/Devices
7-403 Notice of Intent to Do Work in Public Ways to be Given
7-404 Town Boundary Markers to be Respected
7-405 Street Lights, Warning Lights to be Respected
7-406 Owners/Agents of Property Abutting Sidewalks Required to
            Remove Snow
7-407 No Snow, Ice or Water to be Discharged into Public Way
7-500 Miscellaneous
7-501 Youth Protection Curfew
7-502 Disorderly Actions
7-503 Noise Control
7-504 Alarm Systems
7-505 Fire Regulations
7-506 Prohibition of “Camping”
7-507 Sex Offender Residency
Section 8-100 Streets and Sidewalks
8-101 Standards for Street Layout or Acceptance as Public Ways
8-102 Standards for Repairs to Private Ways
8-103 Procedures for Curb Cut Permits
8-104 Buildings to be Assigned Street Numbers
8-200 Drainage and Erosion Control
8-201 Drainage and Erosion Control
8-300 Sanitary Sewers
8-301 Sewer Regulations
8-400 Water Supply and Distribution
8-401 Water Regulations
Section 9-100 Building Regulations
9-101 Building Inspections
9-102 Plumbing and Gas Fitting Inspections
9-103 Wiring and Electrical Standards
9-200 Other Restrictions on Use of Property
9-201 Regulation of Earth Removal
9-202 Regulation of Signs
Section 10-100 Garbage, Rubbish and Refuse
10-101 Storage of Garbage, Rubbish and Refuse
10-102 Collection of Garbage, Rubbish and Refuse
10-103 Maintenance of Areas Free From Garbage, Rubbish and Refuse
10-104 Enforcement
10-200 Mandatory Recycling
10-201 Recyclable Materials

Southbridge Zoning Bylaws – Contents

I Title
II Purpose
Section 201 - General Purpose
Section 203 - Zoning Map
Section 204 - District Boundaries
III Definitions
IV General Regulations
Section 401 - Regulations applying to all districts
Section 402 - Regulations applying to specific districts
V Use Regulations
Section 501 - Use regulations defined
Section 502 - Table of Use Regulations
VI Dimensional Regulations
Section 601 - Dimensional Regulations defined
Section 602 - Table of Dimensional Regulations
VII Special Regulations
Section 701.1 - Special Permits
Section 701.2 - Plan Approval
Section 702 - Performance Standards
Section 703 - Off-Street Parking and Loading
Section 705 - Cluster and Planned Unit Development
VIII Non-Conforming Buildings and Uses
IX Administration
Section 901 - Enforcement
Section 902 - Zoning (Building Permits)
Section 903 - Occupancy Permit
Section 904 - Special Permit Granting Authority
Section 905 - Board of Appeals
Section 906 - Penalty
X Conflict With Other Laws
XI Amendments
XII Validity
XIII Effective Date
XIV Repealer
XV Flood Plain District
       Paved Area Design and Construction Regulations
XVI Interim Planning Overlay District (DELETED)
XVI Watershed Protection DistrictXVII Earth Removal


  1. Tired of that ugly faceNovember 21, 2013 at 7:55 PM

    Her one brain cell is burnt out she needs to commit herself to a hospital before she hurts herself because God only knows she has already hurt the residents of this town with her narrow minded decisions what a mess she is......

    1. Seriously, if one was to list Catherine-the-not-so-Great's ten worse qualities, I don"t believe her appearance would make that list, but I agree to a degree. Even If she was a Heather Locklear look alike, as the darkness from within her casts its' malevolent shade upon the surface, the very sight of her would still bring fear into the hearts of adults, ignorant little puppies and children alike.(Nothing against puppies). I suspect lions, tigers, bears and hyena's look upon her with admiration.

      Like all mammals, she certainly has more than one brain cell, the problem is that she does not even use one brain cell to question what is brought before her by Town Manager's or carefully selected consultants and me.bers of the Bar to ditto the position of our unelected Mayors. Not unlike Dark Mister Clark, she uses her very modest brain power to subvert transparency and public particiopation
      Her Mom was a wonderful woman, and I respect and admire her Dad and her siblings, but if I didn"t know of her actual parents I would guess she was the offspring of Gloria Allred & Rambo. Yes, I am getting a little personal, but watching her as Chair offend and disrespect speakers that she did not agree with gave us all a sense of what it was like to sit in the Coliseum Roma and observe lions rip the flesh off of well meaning Christians. Often she comments of how happy Sowbridge people are because so few complain. One must be a borderline sadomasochist to stand before her in disagreement. Ha, just saying...

  2. The Holidays are an ideal time to sneak in proposals that would otherwise not see the light of day. Not only can the former Chairperson be rude & crude, she is shrewd as well.

  3. A meeting of the General Government Subcommittee has been scheduled for Monday, November 25 at 7:00 pm in the George Parent Community Room, 2nd floor at Town Hall. The agenda calls for the approval of the bylaw committee's report.

  4. I want an apology from the Ozone. The picture on this story made my 3 year old cry.

    1. I"m sending Mr. O'Brien a cleaning bill-that picture made my Rottweiler tinkle all over the Persian rug' and for some reason the cat will no longer eat food from out of a can,

      Also my my wife is annoyed because now she has to stop by the pharmacy tomorrow and pick up some of those blue pills if she wants to enjoy a satisfying weekend

    2. You can hide your political actions and deeds, but you can never hide from the camera.

  5. So Ken, do you think that the Town Council still wants to change the required votes to terminate the town manager to 6, rather than the 5 recommended by the Charter Review Committee, now that their boy is leaving them? Thoughts? I mean, it looked like their ambushing of the process was really for that point only, and now that Harwich's gain is our loss (so to speak), any chance of a do-over?

  6. It's so ironic that the changes made by the first charter committee in 2002(?) were in many cases driven by the desire to limit the power of an unpopular town manager (Coughlin), while the more recent charter review process was co-opted by the town council to reward a popular town manager (Clark).

    The next time this is done in five years, everyone involved ought to limit their consideration to the positions, and not the people manning (or womaning) them. When changes to the town charter regarding the town manager, or the DPW director, or any other function are being considered, the incumbent should have no bearing on the thought process. After all, the employees come and go, the positions are the things that remain.

    Now we are stuck with this 6 member requirement to remove a manager. Honestly, any manager ought to be on good enough terms with at least a simple majority so that he or she avoids the extreme action of termination. Common sense says if they can't do that, then they are probably not doing a very good job.

    I hope at the next charter review, politics stays out of the process.

    1. Actually the next time this is done is in two years - the next charter review committee is due to be appointed after next June and the next bylaw review is after that.

  7. connected at the hipNovember 26, 2013 at 1:03 PM

    lets not forget the other fithly fly in the ointment CLEMENCE!!!!


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