AYER -- With 14 articles left on the warrant, the second night of Town Meeting was nearly called for lack of a quorum.
Per a town bylaw established in the 1980s, a head count of 50 is required to convene, and with just 35 people in house at 7:10, the moderator held off. By 7:30, there were enough people present to get started.
When the meeting adjourned about 9 p.m., there were 52 people present, and all remaining articles had passed, with the last three -- proposed bylaw changes -- generating the most discussion.
Article 36 sought to beef up the town's anti-littering bylaw, levying a $300 fine for tossing garbage, refuse, rubbish or other debris on town streets, in the water or on private or public land without permission, with the Ayer Police Department and Board of Health as enforcement agents.
Article 37 sought a new, more stringent and enforceable bylaw to restrict the number of unregistered motor vehicles and/or car parts a resident can have on a property and sets a time limit.
Article 38 sought to create an enforcement bylaw, basically allowing the town, through its designated agencies, to issue tickets rather than take bylaw breakers to court.
This article listed which agency would have enforcement authority for anti-littering, nuisance and unregistered vehicles bylaws, those agencies being the Board of Health and building inspector, and the Police Department and building commissioner, respectively, with the Conservation Commission the designated enforcement agency for the Wetlands Act.
Former Selectman Frank Maxant objected to all three articles, which he said were placed on the warrant "at the last minute" with no chance for selectmen to review them.
Although as a member of the board he voted to do so, he now felt it was the wrong move, he said. After reading the proposed bylaws, he was "surprised" to see they didn't address what townspeople have said they were worried about, he explained.
In effect, he viewed the new laws as "solutions looking for a problem" he said, and in separate motions, he proposed postponing consideration of the bylaw changes in question until fall Town Meeting, giving town officials more time to review them.
To that end, Maxant made separate motions to either table or vote down each of the articles when they came up. His motions were defeated and, after much discussion, all three articles passed.