NORTHBRIDGE, Mass. – Northbridge voters at Tuesday’s annual fall town meeting rejected a $1.8 million Department of Public Works proposal designed by engineer Neal Mitchell.
The controversial Mitchell plan was the last article on the 17-article town meeting warrant and was decided in a secret ballot vote by 187 residents in attendance.
A two-thirds vote was needed for passage. The final vote was 69 in favor of the proposal, and 118 against.
Prior to discussion of the plan, voters were asked to approve an amendment to the article that specified the $1.8 million would be borrowed as a debt exclusion from Proposition 2½.
An amendment was necessary because of an error in the article. All expenditure requests must have a source of funding and article 17 did not.
Finance Committee member Christopher Thompson, when asked by Town Moderator Harold Gould, said the Finance Committee did not have an opinion on the debt exclusion request.
“The Finance Committee doesn’t have a position … we do not support it in general. Coming here and making an amendment at the last minute … this should have been discussed before,’’ he said.
The amendment failed by a vote of 47 to 73.
Mitchell has proposed a modular, pre-fabricated steel building on town-owned land at either the waste water treatment plant on Providence Road or the DPW site on Fletcher Street.
Former selectman Roger Mathieu presented the article and requested a secret ballot
“We’re proposing to save you some serious money,’’ he said, comparing Mitchell’s plan to an $8 million design by HKT architects on Fletcher Street, and a $3.1 million proposal on Douglas Road.
“We appreciate what they do. We disagree on the way to proceed with this project,’’ Thompson said.
The Douglas Road plan, which has the support of the Board of Selectmen, Finance Committee and Building, Planning and Construction Committee, goes to voters at a special town meeting in December.
Voters will be asked to purchase the Old Colony building for $995,000 and renovate it for DPW use for $2.1 million.