Residents submitted 249 verified signatures to the Town Clerk Friday on a petition to move the vote to from to a town wide referendum. The town meeting scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Monday will now be to set the date of the referendum, though, by procedure, the public will be allowed to comment and ask questions.
According to section 7-7 of the Connecticut General Statutes, residents can force a referendum for any item on a town meeting agenda with the signatures of 200 registered voters (or 10 percent of registered voters, whichever is less). With the signatures verified by the Town Clerk’s Office Friday, the statute requires a town wide ballot vote be held within seven to 14 days of the town meeting.
After speaking with the Registrars of Voters, First Selectman Bill Davidson said the selectmen will be suggesting Tuesday, June 26 for the vote, as the week after that is the July 4th holiday.
“The people who did the petition have the legal right to do that,” Davidson said, “But this is the wrong way. This is precisely the kind of thing to have a town meeting about.”
Davidson said referendums should be saved for “big, global matters,” as each vote costs the town upwards of $7,000.
“This is what the town meeting form of government is for,” he said, as it allows for public participation in niche matters at limited expense.
“Members of the Happy Landings Association worked diligently to obtain this referendum and have entirely legitimate reasons for doing so,” said Laila Ferrara, one of the petition organizers. “Not only were people unaware of this proposal, but they were also angry that it has even been considered, and that a town meeting was called so quickly without a substantial timeframe for notifying the entire Brookfield population.”
Ferrara argued that the relatively short period between when the town meeting was called (June 8) and when it was to be held and the fact that Happy Landings is publicly owned warranted more public awareness and a town wide vote.
“The people we reached out to overwhelmingly prefer an all-day referendum rather than a town-meeting at 7:30 p.m. on a Monday when an incredibly small representation of our community could attend,” she said.
Davidson encouraged residents to still attend Monday night’s meeting, not only to set the date for the referendum vote, but also to learn more about the proposal and have their questions answered.