Posted: Saturday, April 4, 2015 1:59 pm | Updated: 4:05 pm, Sat Apr 4, 2015.Taylor Rapalyea Staff Writer
ROCKPORT — The seaside village of Rockport may face some significant changes in the next year.
Town Meeting voters Saturday gave their approval to further easing restrictions on licenses to sell alcoholic beverages, and bringing a series of changes to a full town referendum.
And voters will likely get to cast those ballots on some shiny new voting tabulators that will be here for the 2016 presidential election after residents approved acquiring new voting machines Saturday as well.
All other articles also gained Town Meeting approval, and with changes to the proposed operating budget, the bottom line was voted in at $27,005,361, an increase of 3.4 percent, and up from the $26.9 million budget initially sought by the Finance Committee.
Wally Hess, who chairs the Finance Committee, said after the meeting, that police union contracts for the patrolmen, settled Thursday night, and the recommended budget for the Economic Development Committee drove the operating budget up from the original proposal.
A spirited debate over Article Q — a proposal to expand liquor licenses to allow consumers to drink at a restaurant without a meal — stole the show Saturday.
Parties on both sides of the issue gave their passionate arguments, including a Star Trek metaphor against the article from resident Zenas Seppala that was lost on those who hadn’t seen the episode.
A microphone runner — Jane Quirk, a student at Rockport High School — spoke during the debate in favor of Rockport’s progression.
“I understand your concerns, but we’re not stupid,” she said of Rockport’s youth, after one commenter expressed concern for the exposure of alcohol to children.