AN ACT TO PROVIDE FOR PRECINCT VOTING, LIMITED TOWN MEETINGS, TOWN-MEETING MEMBERS, A REFERENDUM AND
AN ANNUAL MODERATOR IN THE TOWN OF METHUEN.
Special Acts and RESOLVES PASSED BY THE General Court of Massachusetts IN THE YEAR 1916.
Be it enacted, etc., as follows:
Upon the acceptance of this act by the town of Methuen, as hereinafter provided, the selectmen of that town shall forthwith divide the territory thereof into not less than three nor more than six voting precincts, to be designated by numbers, and thereby establish the same.
Such precincts shall be so established as to consist of compact and contiguous territory, to be bounded, as far as possible, by the centre line of known streets and ways or by other well denned limits.
The boundaries of the precincts shall be reviewed and, if need be, wholly or partly revised, by the selectmen in the month of January, once in every five years, and the number of the same may be increased within the limit of six.
The selectmen shall, within ten days after selectmen any establishment or revision of the precincts, file a report doings! etc. of their doings with the town clerk, the registrars of voters,, and the assessors, with a map or maps or description of the precincts and the names and residences of the registered voters therein. The selectmen shall also cause to be posted in the town hall a map or maps or description of the precincts as established from time to time, with the names and residences of the registered voters therein; and they shall also cause to be posted in at least three public places in each precinct a map or description of that precinct, with the names and residences of the registered voters therein.
The division of the town into voting precincts and any revision of such precincts shall take effect upon the date of the filing of the report thereof. by the selectmen with the town clerk. Whenever such precincts are established or revised, the town clerk shall forthwith give written notice thereof to the secretary of the commonwealth, stating the number and designation of such precincts. The provisions of chapter eight hundred and thirty-five of the acts of the year nineteen hundred and thirteen and any amendments thereof relating to precinct voting at all elections, so far as the same are not inconsistent with this act, shall apply to all elections and primaries in the town of Methuen upon the establishment of voting precincts as hereinbefore provided.
The registered male voters in each precinct shall, at the first annual town election after the establishment of the precinct and in conformity with the laws relative to elections not inconsistent with this act, elect by ballot three per cent of said voters in the precinct, other than those officials hereinafter designated in section three as town-meeting members at large, to be town-meeting members of the town, of whom one third shall be elected for the term of one year, one third for the term of two years and one third for the term of three years;
and thereafter, except as hereinafter provided, at each annual town election in the town hall the said voters of each precinct shall in like manner elect one per cent of their number to be town- meeting members for the term of three years, and shall at such election fill for the unexpired term any vacancy then existing in the number of the town-meeting members in their respective precincts. Upon every revision of the precincts or of any of them the term of office of all town- meeting members within every such revised precinct shall thereupon cease, and there shall be at the first ensuing annual town election a new election of town-meeting members in any precinct so revised, as well as in any precinct newly established.
The town clerk shall, after every election of town-meeting members, forthwith notify by mail each member of his election, with instructions to signify in writing to the town clerk within seven days after the receipt of such notice his acceptance or refusal of membership.
The town meetings of Methuen, except as otherwise provided in section five shall, at and after the first annual election under this act, be limited to the registered voters elected under sections two and seven, together with the following, designated as town-meeting members at large, namely:
— the members in the general court from Methuen, the moderator, the town clerk, the selectmen, the town treasurer, the tax collector, the tree warden, and the chairman of each of the following boards:
— the assessors, the school committee, the cemetery commissioners, the water board, the playstead commission, the planning board and the registrars of voters.
The town clerk shall notify the town-meeting members of the time and place at which town meetings are to be held, such notices, when practicable, to be sent by mail at least four days before any such meeting.
The town-meeting members, as aforesaid, shall be the judges of the election and qualification of their members.
Not less than one half of the town-meeting members at any such limited town meeting must be present to constitute a quorum for doing business; but a less number may organize temporarily and may adjourn from time to time.
All town meetings shall be held with open doors. The town-meeting members as such shall receive no compensation. Subject to such conditions as may be determined from time to time by its members at any limited town meeting any registered voter of the town who is not a town-meeting member may speak, but he shall not vote. Any town-meeting member may resign by filing a written notice with the town clerk, the resignation to take effect on the date of such filing;
and any town-meeting member who removes from Methuen shall cease to be a town-meeting member.
Nominations of candidates for town-meeting members to be elected under this act shall be made by nomination papers signed by not less than thirty registered male voters of the precinct in which the candidate resides and filed with the town clerk at least ten days before the election. No nomination papers shall be valid in respect to any candidate whose written acceptance is not thereon or attached thereto:
provided, however, that any town meeting member may become a candidate for re-election by giving written notice to the town clerk at least twenty days before the election.
The articles in the warrant for every town meeting, so far as they relate to the election of the moderator, town officers, and town-meeting members, as hereinbefore provided, to granting licenses for the sale of intoxicating liquors, referenda, and all matters to be acted upon and determined by ballot by the registered voters of the town in their respective precincts, shall be so acted upon and determined.
All other articles in the warrant for any town meeting shall be acted upon and determined exclusively by town-meeting members at a meeting to be held at such time and place as shall be set forth by the selectmen in the warrant for the meeting and subject to the referendum provided for by section eight.
A moderator shall be elected by ballot at each annual town meeting and shall serve as the moderator of all town meetings until his successor is elected and qualified.
Nominations for moderator and his election shall be as in the case of other elective town officers, and any vacancy in such office may be filled by the town-meeting members at a meeting held for that purpose.
If a moderator is absent, a moderator pro tempore may be elected by the town-meeting members.
Any vacancy in the full number of town meeting members from any precinct, to wit, three per cent, may be filled until the next annual election by the remaining members of the precinct from among the registered male voters thereof.
Upon petition therefor, signed by not than ten town-meeting members from the precinct, notices thereof shall be promptly given by the town clerk to the remaining members from the precinct in which such vacancy or vacancies exist, and he shall call a special meeting of such members for the purpose of filling any vacancy.
He shall cause to be mailed to each of such members, not less than four days before the time set for such meeting, a notice, specifying the object, and the time and place thereof.
At such meeting a majority of the members shall constitute a quorum, and they shall elect from their own number a chairman and a clerk. The choice to fill any such vacancy shall be by ballot and a majority of the votes cast shall be required for a choice.
The chairman and clerk shall make a certificate of such choice and forthwith file the same with the town clerk, together with a written acceptance by the member or members so chosen, who shall thereupon be deemed elected and qualified a town-meeting member or members under this act, subject to the right of all the town- meeting members to judge of the election and qualification of members as set forth in section three.
If at any limited town meeting, a vote is passed authorizing the expenditure of five thousand dollars or more as a special appropriation, such vote shall not become operative until after the expiration of five days, exclusive of Sundays and holidays, from the day of the dissolution of such meeting.
If, within the said five days a petition signed by not less than twenty registered male voters from each precinct therein, with their street addresses, is filed with the selectmen, asking that the question or questions involved in such vote be submitted to the registered male voters at large, the selectmen and the moderator shall, within fourteen days after the filing thereof, present the question or questions so involved to the registered male voters at large convened in a special town meeting to be held for that purpose, at which meeting the ballot and the check lists shall be used in the respective precincts, and such question or questions shall be determined by the vote of a majority of such voters at large of the town voting thereon at such special town meeting.
If such petition be not filed within the said period of five days, the vote in the limited town meeting authorizing such expenditure shall become operative upon the expiration of the said period.
The municipal corporation of the town of Methuen, after the acceptance of this act, shall have the capacity to act through and to be bound by its said town- meeting members who shall, when convened from time to time as hereinunder provided, constitute limited town meetings; and such limited town meetings shall exercise exclusively, so far as shall conform to the provisions of this act, all powers vested in the municipal corporation of Methuen.
Action in conformity with all provisions of law now or hereafter applicable to the transaction of town affairs in town meetings, shall, when taken by any limited town meeting in Methuen in accordance with the provisions of this act, have the same force and effect as if said action had been taken in a town meeting, open to all the qualified voters of said town, as heretofore organized and conducted.
This act shall not abridge the right of the General citizens of Methuen to hold general meetings, according to any right secured to its voters or to the people by the constitution of this commonwealth; nor shall this act confer upon any limited town meeting in Methuen the power finally to commit the town to any proposition affecting its municipal existence or change in the form of its government, without action thereon by the qualified voters of the town at large.
This act shall be submitted to the voters of Methuen in the year nineteen hundred and sixteen, at special town meeting, duly called and notified for that purpose, in the form of the following question to be placed upon the ballot used at such meeting:
— "Shall an act passed by the general court in the year nineteen hundred and sixteen, entitled 'An Act to provide for precinct voting, limited town meetings, town-meeting members, a referendum and an annual moderator in the town of Methuen', be accepted?"
And if a majority of the registered male voters thereon shall vote in the affirmative, the act shall thereupon take effect, but not otherwise. But so much of this act as authorizes its submission to the registered male voters of the town of Methuen shall take effect upon its passage.
Approved February 24, 1916.