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Town of Chelmsford, MA
Middlesex County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Annual Town Meeting of the Town of Chelmsford 10-15-1990 by Art. 19. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The annual election shall be held on the first Tuesday of April.
A. 
Submission deadline. All warrant articles shall be in the hands of the Board of Selectmen no later than the first Monday in January for the Town Meeting to be held in April and the first Monday in August for the Town Meeting to be held in October. The Board of Selectmen may waive this requirement if deemed in the best interest of the Town or as required by statute.
B. 
Publication. The warrant article shall be included in the Finance Committee report which shall be made available to Town Meeting members and the public not less than one week before either Town Meeting. The warrant articles for any Special Town Meeting shall be made available to the Town Meeting members not less than 14 days before the Special Town Meeting.
[Amended 10-21-1999 ATM by Art. 24]
A. 
The Representative Annual Town Meetings shall be held on the last Monday in April and on the third Monday in October in each year. Adjourned sessions of any Town Meeting shall be scheduled for only a Monday or Thursday, unless an alternate date is approved by a two-thirds vote of the Town Meeting representatives present and voting. The April Town Meeting is expected to be primarily concerned with the determination of matters involving the expenditure and commitment of Town funds, including but not limited to the adoption of an annual operating budget for all Town agencies.
[Amended 10-21-1991 ATM by Art. 3]
B. 
The Board of Selectmen may, in any manner provided under the laws of the commonwealth or the Charter, for the purpose of acting upon the legislative business of the Town in an orderly and expeditious manner, call the Representative Town Meeting into session at other times by the issuance of warrants therefor.
A. 
Order of precedence of motions. At all sessions of Town Meeting, the following motions shall be recognized and shall have precedence in the order in which they are arranged in this subsection:
Order of Precedence of Motions
[Amended 10-24-1996 ATM by Arts. 27, 28 and 29]
Motion
Privileged
Debatable
Can be Amended
Can be Reconsidered
Vote Required
Adjourn (unqualified)
Yes
No
No
No
Majority
Adjourn at or to a certain time
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
Majority
Recess
Yes
No
Yes
No
Majority
Question of privilege, order of information
Yes*
No
No
No
None
Take out of order
Yes
Yes
No
No
Majority
Reconsider
Yes
Yes
No
Yes
Majority
Lay on or take from the table
No
No
No
No
Majority
Previous question
No
No
No
No
2/3
Limit or extend debate
No
No
No
Yes
2/3
Postpone to a certain time
No
Yes
Yes
No
Majority
Commit, recommit or refer
No
Yes
Yes
Yes
Majority
Amend
No
Yes
Once
Yes
Majority
Main motion
No
Yes
Yes
Yes
Majority
NOTES:
*The privileged motions marked by an asterisk may interrupt the speaker.
B. 
The above table of motions in order of their precedence must be included in the Finance Committee report for each of the Annual Town Meetings.
[Amended 10-21-1999 ATM by Art. 25]
C. 
The following listing of common motions, classified according to their objectives, must be included in the Finance Committee report for the Annual Town Meetings:
[Amended 10-21-1999 ATM by Art. 25]
Common Motions Classified According to Their Objectives
To modify or amend
(a)
Amend
(b)
Commit or refer
To defer action
(a)
Postpone to a certain time
(b)
Lay on the table
(c)
Commit or refer
To suppress or limit debate
(a)
Previous question (to close debate now) (2/3 vote)
(b)
Limit debate (2/3 vote)
To suppress the question
(a)
Previous question (2/3 vote) and reject question
(b)
Lay on the table
To consider a question a second time
(a)
Take from the table
(b)
Reconsider
D. 
Reconsideration. A motion at any adjourned Town Meeting for reconsideration or rescinding of any action taken at a previous session of the adjourned Town Meeting shall not be entertained or allowed by the Town Moderator.
A. 
Any article appearing in the warrant and considered at any Town Meeting may be amended and any portion thereof may be deleted or added to by a vote of the Town Meeting members; provided, however, that in said notice the words "or act in relation thereto" or "do anything pertaining thereto" or words of similar import appear at the end of said article.
B. 
An amended amendment cannot be amended, and no motion or proposition of a subject different from that under consideration shall be entertained under color of an amendment.
C. 
Amendment of bylaws. Town bylaws may be amended or rescinded by a majority vote of those present and voting at any Town Meeting, provided that the proposed action was published in the warrant of that Town Meeting, and further provided that any such amendment is in compliance with the Charter.
A. 
When the report of a committee is placed in the hands of the Town Moderator it shall be deemed to be received, and a vote to accept the report shall discharge the committee unless the report is one of progress and not final, in which case the committee continues to serve unless the Town Meeting members vote to discharge the same.
B. 
All reports, resolutions, motions or amendments submitted to the Town Meeting for consideration involving the expenditure of money shall be presented, in writing, to the Town Moderator.
A. 
No money shall be transferred at a Special Town Meeting except by a majority vote of those present and voting.
B. 
All motions on articles involving bond or note issues shall require a two-thirds vote of those present and voting.
C. 
Appropriations at Special Town Meetings. No money shall be appropriated at a Special Town Meeting except by a two-thirds vote of the voters present and voting.
A. 
Attorneys speaking. Any person who is employed as an attorney by another interested in any matter under discussion at a Town Meeting shall disclose the fact of his or her employment before speaking thereof.
B. 
Town Counsel. The Board of Selectmen shall assure that the guidance of the Town Counsel is available both to the Town Moderator and to the body at all Town Meetings whenever practical.
[Added 10-21-1991 ATM by Art. 2]
Dates and times proposed for continuance of the Town Meeting shall be announced when the warrant is posted.
[Added 10-21-1991 ATM by Art. 2]
No warrant article may be introduced for consideration after 11:00 p.m. without a majority vote of Town Meeting representatives present and voting to allow such consideration.
[Added 10-21-1991 ATM by Art. 2]
Distribution of material and lobbying on warrant articles or issues not related to warrant articles being considered at that Town Meeting will be prohibited within an area of 100 feet outside the entrance to the building housing the meeting. An area will be established inside the building but outside the meeting place where one individual from each group supporting or opposing an issue may distribute material or discuss the issue. Handout material should be dated and signed by the organization or individuals preparing the material.
[Added 10-21-1991 ATM by Art. 2; amended 5-1-1997 ATM by Art. 28; 4-25-2011 ATM by Art. 16]
A. 
Voting process. Voice votes shall not be used. The Moderator shall take all votes by a raising of hands or use of an electronic tally and display system, except as may otherwise be voted by Town Meeting under § 154-16.
B. 
Electronic tally and display system. Votes taken by an electronic tally and display system shall be visible to the Town Meeting members and any members of the public present at the meeting. The display shall show each Town Meeting member’s name; precinct; "yes," "no" or "abstain" vote; and a tally of all votes.
C. 
Matters requiring a two-thirds vote by statute. In matters requiring a two-thirds vote by statute, the Moderator may declare the vote based upon the raising of hands. If seven or more members of Town Meeting question the vote, the Moderator shall count the vote. If an electronic tally and display system is used, the tally shall constitute a counted vote; if such a vote is questioned by seven or more members of Town Meeting, the Moderator shall manually tally the electronically recorded votes.
D. 
Record of votes taken by electronic tally. The Town Clerk shall make available in the Town Clerk’s office and on the Town’s website within a reasonable time after a session in which a vote(s) was taken by the use of an electronic tally and display system a list, organized by precinct, which shall disclose how each Town Meeting member voted.
E. 
Regulations. After a public hearing, the Moderator, in consultation with the Board of Selectmen and Town Clerk, shall be authorized to adopt regulations for the purpose of facilitating implementation of this bylaw and ensuring the security and integrity of the voting process.
[Added 10-21-1991 ATM by Art. 2]
A. 
When Town property or assets are to be purchased or sold, the name of the purchaser or seller, if known, must be disclosed by the sponsor.
B. 
The sponsor of any warrant article shall speak initially to explain the article.
C. 
Zoning bylaw presentations by the sponsor must show a map denoting the existing zoning and the proposed changed zoning, including definitions of zones and explanations of changes.
D. 
All sponsors of bylaw changes must show the language of the existing bylaw and the language of the change and an explanation of the change in the presentation.
E. 
All recurring operating budget articles regularly presented at the Spring Annual Town Meeting to defray Town expenses for the upcoming fiscal year must be presented showing the following: dollars budgeted and expended for the last two years and for the current year, proposed budget dollars and the revenue generated by the department requesting the budget.
F. 
Visual aids used in any presentation must be large enough to be viewed from the back of the hall or handouts shall be distributed.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: Former Subsection G, regarding a question and answer period of the sponsor of an article, which immediately followed, was repealed 4-24-2017 ATM by Art. 28.
[Added 10-21-1991 ATM by Art. 2]
The Selectmen and Finance Committee shall have an opportunity to state their position on each article and are encouraged to state their reasons for their position. The Finance Committee is not required to speak on a nonfinancial article.
[Added 10-21-1991 ATM by Art. 2]
The Moderator may distribute additional rules of debate or decorum not controverting any bylaw or statute to help guide debate of issues before the Town Meeting.
[Added 10-21-1991 ATM by Art. 2]
A main motion on any article shall be voted upon by roll call ballot if 40 Town Meeting representatives so vote at the end of debate of that main motion and before a motion under the next article.
[Added 4-28-2003 ATM by Art. 1]
Each session of Town Meeting shall begin with the recitation of the United States Pledge of Allegiance.
{END OF CHAPTER}