Local Government and Politics, News

Nahant Town Meeting spurs contested election, vote on zoning laws

Perry Manadee, vice chairman of the Nahant Advisory and Finance Committee speaks during Town Meeting. (Spenser R. Hasak)

NAHANT — Enzo Barile won back his spot on the Board of Selectmen edging out Justin Mahoney’s write-in campaign by 265 votes after Nahant’s town elections on Saturday.

Residents also voted to give Alison A. Ackerman a seat on the planning committee. Ackerman received 520 votes while opponents John Bianchi received 267 and Edward Goodrich 158.

Ann Spirn, a write-in candidate also earned a spot on the Library Board of Trustees with 136 votes.

At the annual town meeting, residents gathered to vote on several topics including referring a proposed zoning bylaw amendment regarding wetland permits back to the Planning Board for further discussion, revision, and study.

“When you rush to bring things forward with zoning laws, you can sometimes throw the baby out with the bathwater,” said Brendan L. Ward, Chair of the Advisory and Finance Board.

The amendment, which would require permits to remove, fill, dredge, build on, degrade, discharge into and otherwise alter any freshwater or coastal wetlands, brought up discussion from several residents.

Marilyn Morrissey Goodrich, who said she didn’t sleep for four nights waiting to be evacuated, with flood waters 10 feet from her door during floods earlier this year, argued that the wetlands are key to helping prevent flooding because of the water they absorb.

“The wetlands are extremely important to us, every single person here,” she said. “Wetlands are our protection against flooding.”

After the vote, former mayor of Lynn, Thomas P. Costin Jr., came to the podium, speaking out of order, saying that this amendment is about protecting the town from any permits that would favor Northeastern University over the best interest of residents.

“You can never be out of order when speaking to the beauty or future or history of this great town,” he said, and was met with a thunderous applause from the audience.

Along with the wetlands permit issue, the town also voted to approve the expenses for a new fire truck and a temporary structure that would house the old truck and spending toward improvements in the town’s infrastructure.

The town will spend $54,600 toward its share of a new fire engine with the rest of the funds coming from the federal Assistance to Firefighter Grant (AFG) program, which will give the town $445,000 in grant money.

The temporary structure is needed for storage in order to keep Engine 31’s water and pumps from freezing.

While the search for a location for the structure is ongoing, it will be located somewhere near the existing fire station and only displace some parking according to Fire Chief Michael Feinberg.

The investment into repairing the sewer infrastructure will cost $4 million as the initial investment of a full engineering plan that would cost an estimated $30 million.

The planning board, while in support of the expenditure, was hesitant to go forward without a permanent Town Administrator and DPW head. The planning board also recommended a committee be created to oversee the project.

However, despite the suggestions,  the plan passed receiving 156 votes for and only two voters against.

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