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Town Meeting Approves Fund for Opioid Support, Education, Overdose Prevention

Officer Waffles watched over voters both nights

Tewksbury’s 2023 Special Town Meeting convened at 7:00 p.m. in the TMHS gym. There were 91 voters in attendance. 

Article 1 authorized transfers from accounts with a projected surplus to fund items including Animal Control Officer services, design for the Chandler Well Boardwalk project and equipment for the police and fire departments. It was approved unanimously.

Article 2 replenished the show and ice removal account, while Article 3 will fund water treatment plant and Astle St. tank maintenance and upgrades. Both also passed.

Together Articles 4, 5 and 6 established and funded an Opioid Settlement Stabilization Fund. This three-step approval process is required by the Department of Revenue to receive and expend funds from the Nationwide Opioid class action lawsuit. Tewksbury will likely receive, over time, approximately $531,223, according to Town Manager Richard Montuori.   

These funds are earmarked for support, treatment promotion, harm reduction to prevent overdose deaths, education programs and other services to prevent opioid misuse. The Tewksbury Police, Fire and Health departments will work together to decide how to best use the money. 

After voting unanimously to pass these articles, Special Town Meeting adjourned.

First up, upon reconvening Town Meeting, two articles that were tabled on Monday. 

Richard Cuoco of Emerald Court was the petitioner for Articles 28 and 29 asking voters to accept Border Road and Grammy’s Way as public roads. Both were adopted unanimously.

The Planning Board sponsored two articles.

Article 35 addresses relatively minor housekeeping items within the new zoning bylaw, including multiple buildings on industrial lots and rules around signage. The Planning Board recommended adoption of this article, and voters agreed, passing it unanimously.

Article 36 would allow a set number of the empty commercial units dotting Rt. 38 to be converted to affordable rental housing, which would be accessible by those earning 80% of median annual income, or about $80,000. The idea as set forth by Town Planner Alex Lowder is to both use space that has been vacant, sometimes for years, and increase the town’s affordable housing stock, which is critical to keep Tewksbury above the threshold for 40B projects. 

The Planning Board also recommended adoption. Town Meeting passed the article, though not unanimously.

Article 37 was a citizen’s petition presented by developer and Board of Health member Robert Scarano to address what he characterized as an issue with a large setback being required on one-acre properties zoned MFD (multifamily development). The article would reduce the setback from 50 to 15 feet.

Attendees voted for adoption, though not unanimously.

Thanks to newly re-elected moderator Dustin Weir and all the town staff, including counters and Tewksbury Telemedia. A well-run Town Meeting is like a theater production — you don’t notice the hard work and sweat behind the scenes, but rest assured, there was lots of it.

See what happened on Night 1

Lorna is a U.S. Army veteran and 25-year resident of Tewksbury who has written for organizations ranging from the DIA to InformationWeek to a free weekly in New London that sent her to interview the pastry chef at Foxwoods.

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