HARVARD -- Placed last on Tuesday night's busy agenda, the selectmen's final review of the 43-article Annual Town Meeting Warrant didn't start until late in the evening and as it turned out, could not be completed in one night. It ended with Article 10.
Before discussion began, Town Administrator Tim Bragan gave the board a read-through of the April 4 ATM warrant, which he said must go to the printer by next Wednesday. He explained the articles and filled in details, adding money amounts and Town Counsel Mark Lanza's proposed changes to a couple of them.
The board asked questions, discussed some items and wrangled over others.
Article 10, sponsored by the Planning Board, calls for hiring a town planner. It sparked lengthy debate that at an earlier hour might be called lively. As it was, tempers flared and it began shaping up as a pitched battle, with three selectmen on one side, two on the other. Either way, disagreement promised to continue over whether or not they'd support the article as proposed.
Chairman Lucy Wallace favored hiring a consultant to work with the Planning Board on the Master Plan, which she said seems to have stalled, even with a steering committee to drive the process.
But Bill Johnson said a staff position was the way to go and argued adamantly for it.
At that juncture, with an executive session appended to the agenda, Bragan reminded the board that by its own policy they were running on overtime. It was 10:30
The selectmen agreed some time ago to call for a vote before taking on new topics after 10 p.m., and that it must be unanimous if the meeting is to continue. Wallace conceded the point and agreed it was time to wrap up, but Selectman Tim Clark wanted to settle the matter at hand first.
Clark said the topic on the table hadn't changed. They were still talking about the warrant, he pointed out.
Ron Ricci, however, said that he, for one, tended to be less productive, even "grouchy," at that late hour and would not be likely to add much to the discussion if it continued.
A motion was made and passed to recess and reconvene later. The second warrant review session is set for Thursday, Feb. 28 at 9 a.m. The executive session was postponed.