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All Seven Town Meeting Articles Pass, Including Field Purchase and New Zoning

The closest vote at Saturday's Special Town Meeting in Hamilton was about the estate overlay zoning district, which passed by the required two-thirds.

All seven articles on Saturday's Town Meeting warrant – including the purchase of Donovan fields and two zoning changes – were passed.

All of the meeting's business wrapped up in just under three hours in the auditorium at Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School. Turnout was 321 voters, or just over a half a percent of the town's registered voters. It exceeded the 75 voter quorum.

The closest vote came on what's called the estate overlay district, which would allow the owners of large estate home built before 1950 to use their property for uses beyond residential, such an condominiums and offices. And so-called Part B, which became the focus of the discussion, allows the further possibility of adding up to 30,000 square feet of additional building space if the original home is restored to federal historc standards. The project would require a special permit from the Planning Board.

The vote came after Nicholas White of Woodland Mead read a letter from 14 of the 20 affected property owners opposing the article because of Part B.

"We are firmly and unquestionably opposed to Part B," White said.

Part B is the portion that allows new construction on the property, with a special permit from the Planning Board, after historically-sensitive renovations are completed to the main, original building.

Even though she just heard a "long list of friends and neighbors who don't" support the measure, Joanne Patton said she supported it. She lives in one if the affected properties.

"Part B is going to be given the steely-eyed and watchfulness that every citizen deserves," she said.

The measure required a two-thirds vote and passed 185-79.

It was the only time that the votes had to be counted all morning. The other six articles were approved with a voice vote, including three articles unanimously.

After both the vote to use Community Preservation Act money to buy Donovan Fields on Sagamore Street (the first article) and the two zoning articles (the second and third articles) several groups of voters left the auditorium.

For example, 57 fewer votes were cast for the second article - about the estate overlay zoning - than the total number of voters who checked in at the start of the meeting.

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