TEWKSBURY -- Annual Town Meeting Wednesday night gave the green light to an extra $1.4 million for renovations to Town Hall, bringing the total project budget up to $7.5 million.

A total of $6.1 million had been allocated in 2010, but town officials said costs had gone up in the last four years.

The project, now under way, has been discussed in town for more than a decade.

"I would like to know that I'm going to be able to go into this Town Hall and be proud of it before I die," said Warren Carey, one of two residents to speak in favor of appropriating $1,412,000 in Community Preservation Funds for the rehabilitation. "If we don't get going, that's not going to happen."

Former Town Moderator Keith Rauseo argued that the extensive redo violated the spirit of the Community Preservation Act by not fully retaining the hall's auditorium, its most historic feature.

In zoning changes, Town Meeting approved regulations for the siting of medical-marijuana dispensaries and solar-panel installations. The body narrowly shot down developer Arnie Martel's request to rezone a residential parcel on Livingston Street to heavy industrial.

The Planning Board supported the change, but the Board of Selectmen opposed it. Selectmen Chairman Todd Johnson noted the property had been converted from heavy-industrial to residential by a Town Meeting vote just last year, with the Planning Board's recommendation.


"The property in question has not changed one bit in 12 months," Johnson said. "It is still exactly as it was when we sat here 12 months ago. I and my colleagues on the board believe your decision 12 months ago should be honored and respected in that context."

The rezoning, which needed a two-thirds vote to pass, was defeated by an eight-vote margin, 107 to 66.

Tewksbury Hospital Chief Operating Officer Debra Tosti read a letter from Commissioner Cheryl Bartlett, calling it an "unacceptable risk" to allow heavy industry on a plot so near to the wells that provide the hospital's water supply.

Tosti, a non-resident, was introduced by Department of Public Health employee Scott Consaul, who lives on Martha Avenue.

Others who opposed the zoning change said even though some abutting parcels were also zoned heavy-industry, the neighborhood was still a residential one near conservation land.

Residents speaking in support of the zoning change included Richard Cuoco on behalf of Martel, Carey and Planning Board member Nancy Reed.

"Mr. Martel is well aware of groundwater protection," Reed said. "He's well aware of the area of town and that he wants that to look nice. ... Let's try to deal with facts and not bring out the violins and say, 'Oh, no, we don't want heavy industry, we want houses.' "

Special Town Meeting, held before the reconvening of annual Town Meeting, approved fund transfers that included $600,000 from general free cash to the fiscal 2014 snow and ice budget.

A transfer of $870,292 from the stabilization fund was unanimously approved after an unsuccessful amendment attempt by Rauseo.

The item included $700,000 for two replacement fire engines and $170,292 for sick-leave buyback. Rauseo wanted the buyback struck, arguing that it should be part of individual departments' operational budgets.

Rauseo's amendment was rejected, 30-5, after Town Manager Richard Montuori said eliminating the transfer would require cuts to department budgets, including the Fire Department's.

"It will impact their budget, their operations and their approach to public-safety through the end of this fiscal year," Montuori said.

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