Annual Town Meeting
The Town of Nantucket is holding its Annual Town Meeting on Saturday, June 5, 2021 beginning at 9am in the Backus playing fields behind the Nantucket High School located at 10 Surfside Road. Each year a number of articles are submitted, often including those related to zoning, appropriation for road improvements, bike path extensions, groundcover ratio bylaw change, and the leasing of town-owned land, among others.
For every Town Meeting the NLC reviews the warrant and provides recommendations based on articles that would have a negative or positive effect on the environment and natural resources of the island. Click for the 2021 NLC Annual Town Meeting Voter Recommendations.
The Town of Nantucket has a healthy tradition of citizen-submitted warrant articles for town meetings. Per Massachusetts General Law, citizen articles require the signatures of 10 registered voters (registered in the Town of Nantucket) for an annual town meeting and 100 registered voters for special town meetings. The Town of Nantucket has taken the unusual step of providing legal assistance in the preparation of citizen warrant articles. Generally it is between 2-4 weeks prior to the deadline for citizen article submittals. The timeline for Annual Town Meetings may be found on the Town of Nantucket website.
When you feel that your warrant article is ready to be submitted, please proceed as follows:
- Obtain the required number of signatures (better yet, obtain more because sometimes people think they are registered to vote here but they are not). Your article will not be accepted without valid signatures of the required number of voters who are registered in Nantucket (again, that is 10 signatures for Annual Town Meeting warrant articles and 100 for Special Town Meeting warrant articles). You may obtain more signatures than required, but not less. Please make sure the signatures are legible and that the names are legibly printed next to the signature, with a legible street address. The first signature on the warrant article will become the sponsor of the article. As a result, it is best to be sure that the first signature is that of someone who can represent and speak to the article. Signature Petitions are available from the Town of Nantucket website.
- Submit your article and the recommended questionnaire to the Town Clerk’s office (16 Broad Street, Town Building), where your article will be stamped in as “Received”; the questionnaire collected and the petitioners’ signatures will be certified.
- If possible, please also email your article and questionnaire to the Town Administration office (TownManager@nantucket-ma.gov) in MS Word format.
Some things to remember when preparing your warrant article:
- Your article will be printed in the warrant “as is”. This means that any spelling, grammatical, punctuation or typographical errors will be printed in the town meeting warrant document.
- You may be asked a lot of questions about your article by the various boards/committees/town agencies that may be reviewing it. It is recommended that you “do your homework” on the article and attend the meetings that are held about it.
Additional general information about warrant articles:
- Depending on what your article is meant to achieve (ie, bylaw amendment, home rule petition, zoning change, funding request), even if it is approved by town meeting, it may require additional action, including action by other agencies, such as the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, or a ballot vote at a subsequent election. Do not assume that it will go into effect immediately upon passage.
Bylaw amendments (general and zoning): require the approval of the state Attorney General’s office (and sometimes other state agencies) before taking effect, although there are special rules relating to the application of zoning bylaw amendments, to specific developments.
Home rule petitions: require the approval of the state legislature (this has been known to take years).
Financial appropriations: funding is generally available in the fiscal year specified – either the current year or the next fiscal year beginning on July 1.
- If your warrant article is NOT recommended by the Finance Committee and you still want to proceed with it, you will need to prepare a positive motion for it and submit it to the Moderator in writing prior to Town Meeting. Limited assistance is available from the Town to help you with a positive motion.
- If you have a funding proposal, please keep in mind that Town Meeting cannot mandate funding beyond the upcoming fiscal year; and, depending on what the item is, Town Meeting cannot mandate that the funds be spent (that happens at the discretion of your elected officials, the Select Board).
- As noted above, a form has been developed to assist you with capturing the information that the Finance Committee and possibly other Town agencies such as the Planning Board or Capital Program Committee will need to properly review your proposal. The Citizen Warrant Article Questionnaire is available on the Town’s website. The form is not required; however, completion and submittal of it will make the necessary review smoother. If the form is not submitted, your proposal might not be reviewable by the appropriate Town agency.