At its meeting on April 5, 2021, the Amherst Town Council voted to authorize borrowing to fund the expansion and restoration of the Jones Library.
The vote margin was 10 in favor, 2 opposed, and 1 abstaining.
Subsequent to that Town Council vote, residents initiated a petition to trigger section 8.4 of the Amherst Home Rule Charter that provides for a “Voter Veto” protesting against the measure approved by the Town Council.
To initiate this process, the petitioners needed to submit a petition “physically signed by a minimum of 5% of the registered voters as of the date of the most recent Town election”. The Town Clerk determined that this number was 864 signatures.
The petitioners had 14 days following the date on which the Town Council had voted to approve the measure. The 14th day was Monday, April 19th. But, due to the Patriots Day holiday, the deadline became Tuesday, April 20th at 5:00 p.m.
The Town Clerk’s Office reviewed all signatures submitted by the 5:00 p.m. deadline on April 20, 2021 and certified a total of 842 signatures of registered voters. The office received 12 written statements, in proper form, from voters who asked that their names not be certified. However, only two withdrawal letters were received prior to the filing of the petition so only two were not certified.
The petition failed to produce enough signatures of registered voters to trigger the next steps in Section 8.4 of the Amherst Home Rule Charter.
A complaint has been filed in Superior Court requesting, among other things to (a) extend the period of time for collecting signatures, (b) reduce the number of signatures required to 50% of the Charter requirement, and (c) provide for the submission of electronic signatures.
Contrary to what has been reported in a local newspaper, no Court extension of time to collect signatures has been granted. The Court has agreed to hold a hearing on the plaintiffs’ request for relief on Wednesday, April 28th at 10:00 a.m. in Superior Court.