By Beth David, Editor
The Fairhaven Selectboard voted to postpone the town election and town meeting at its regular meeting on 3/23/20. The public was invited to attend and participate by calling in or using Zoom. The instructions on how to do so were included on the agenda, and also on the screen for those watching the livestream or watching on Channel 18.
During the crisis and emergency order from the state, the public is not allowed to be physically present at meetings. Town hall is closed to the public, although essential employees are working. Most employees are working remotely. Visit the town’s website at www.fairhaven-ma.gov to see which services they may conduct online. Call the department you need to find out how conduct the business you require.
Town Administrator Mark Rees, Selectboard chairperson Charles K. Murphy, and board member Bob Espindola were present in the banquet room at town hall during the meeting on 3/23. Board member Daniel Freitas joined the meeting via Zoom.
In consultation with Mr. Crotty, the board decided to postpone the election, originally set for 4/6, and chose a tentative date of Monday, 5/18. Town Meeting is usually held about a month after the election, but all TM business must be completed by 6/30, so the date for TM was set for Saturday, 6/20.
The dates are tentative pending some logistics to be worked out with the Town Clerk’s office, although Mr. Rees said he did consult with the town clerk to get a list of dates.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, things may change quickly, so residents are encouraged to check the town’s website for changes.
Mr. Rees also updated the board on the COVID-19 response. He included a “continuity of operations plan,” that, he said, he was forced to implement before the board met because of the governor’s order.
The plan included shutting down town hall completely. View the order here: https://www.fairhaven-ma.gov/sites/fairhavenma/files/news/office-closure-covid.pdf
Essential employees are working remotely; the public works departments are splitting shifts so that fewer people are working at the same time.
Mr. Rees said the fire and police departments have not been directly affected. They are still responding to emergencies and there has not been an uptick in emergencies, he said on Monday.
He said local officials have the authority to enforce the governor’s mandate that all non-essential businesses be shut down. He said he would meet with the Board of Health and the Police Department to discuss how to enforce the ban in Fairhaven.
He said it was a “serious matter,” and asked all non-essential businesses to shut down voluntarily.
Food establishments, including grocery stores and take-out restaurants, gas stations, and pharmacies are allowed to be open.
“Town employees…are working very hard to maintain essential services,” said Mr. Rees, noting that the Council on Aging Director, Anne Silvia, was continuing Meals on Wheels. “So a shout-out to Anne Silvia and the Council on Aging.”
Mr. Espindola directed his comments at “everyone,” he said, and thanked everyone in town hall for all their efforts, and the leadership shown by the health agent, school department, IT, etc.
“There’s been so many people involved in this,” said Mr. Espindola. “It’s really impressive to see how thoughtful people are. Leadership shows through in times like this.”
He said they talk a lot about “resiliency” in different contexts.
“But in this case as a society, we are learning to be more resilient,” said Mr. Espindola.
Mr. Freitas chimed in to agree. He said there was a lot of great information from town hall. He was updated constantly by Mr. Rees and the staff.
“Everyone seems to be handling this very well,” said Mr. Freitas, adding that he hoped it would not last for long.
He also thanked Mr. Rees, saying he has “done a great job keeping everything going and keeping us informed. A big round of applause for him and his leadership.”
Mr. Rees said it would not be possible with the employees, “Thank you for your kind words.”
“Every role of town employee has shined,” said Mr. Murphy, adding that their dedication to their jobs has shown.
In other business, the board approved a change to the license of the Courtyard Restaurant, changing from a sole proprietorship to an S Corp.
The board also approved a license for Gulf Resources, 277 Bridge Street, to sell beer and wine. The hearing was continued from the March 9 meeting because board members wanted to know how the additional license would affect the number of recreational marijuana retail shops the town would be required to allow.
The state formula requires that the town allow a minimum of 20% of the number of liquor stores it has. Mr. Crotty told the board that the town has 12. The way the formula works, an increase would not be required until the town reached 16.
In other business, the board:
• Approved the use of the front of town hall for the National Day of Prayer on 5/7/20, pending the status of the emergency order, restrictions on the number of people gathered, etc.
• Approved an extension on the deadline for shellfish and dinghy permits to 4/30 (from 3/31)
The board tabled several items that were on the agenda, including discussion of the personnel policy, FY21 budgets, preparation for town meeting, and appointment of poll workers.
Support local journalism, donate to the Neighb News with PayPal.
Click here to download the entire 3/26/20 issue: 03-26-20 GrabNGo