This article is part of a continuing series on the Hopkinton Annual Town Meeting scheduled for May 1, 2023 at 7:00 PM. There are 48 articles to discuss at the 2023 Town Meeting; what follows are the most important agenda items for Hopkinton residents to consider. Each of these articles requires a Yes or No vote from registered voters in attendance.
Article 33: Short Term Rental Bylaw
The purpose of this bylaw is to establish licensing power over short term rentals in Hopkinton. This was precipitated by a letter from Pike Street residents who expressed displeasure that a house on their street had been listed on AirBnb and VRBO and that it allowed for single night rentals, effectively turning it into “Hopkinton’s only hotel room”.
Among other provisions, the bylaw would require short term rentals to receive a license from the town and would set rental minimums to 2 nights but no more than 30 nights. It also sets a maximum occupancy for short term rental units.
Why this matters: Short term rental units have the potential to change the nature of communities. Their mounting presence in neighborhoods can lead to a variety of issues, from mundane annoyances (noisy parties) to substantial challenges (they make it more difficult for regular people to buy homes). Many communities are scrambling to enact laws to prevent this. Hopkinton, with its ties to the Boston Marathon and lack of hotels, is a particularly attractive location for short term rental operators. This bylaw will strengthen the town’s control over short term rental units.
Article 34: Gun Club Indoor Shooting
This is a request to amend the town bylaws to require gun clubs to fire indoors. In part it reads: Protect “we the people, babies, animals & birds”, from noise pollution. Gun clubs, should practice firing gun shots indoor and stop noise pollution and make the Town of Hopkinton, enjoyable to every citizen, babies, animals & birds.
There are four gun clubs in Hopkinton. Nearby residents complain about the sound of gunfire and explosions interfering with the peaceful enjoyment of their property. But according to Bob Draper, President of the Hopkinton Sportsman’s Association, this amendment would violate a 1931 agreement the facility has with the town as well as state law. At the Select Board meeting in late February, Draper asserted that “what the people are asking for cannot (legally) be done”.
Why this matters: Whether this amendment would survive a legal challenge is unclear, but a vote will signal to the Select Board how Hopkinton residents feel about gun clubs in their neighborhoods and may spur future action.
Articles 15 & 16: Chestnut Street and EMC Park to Blueberry Lane sidewalks
This is a pair of articles that will raise money to build a sidewalk on Chestnut Street from Wild Road to Smith Road and a sidewalk from EMC Park to Blueberry Lane.
Last year the Planning Board conducted a survey of Hopkinton residents, and based on the results they have created a Pedestrian Connectivity plan. Respondents were overwhelmingly concerned with safety. They also want easy access to downtown businesses and to use sidewalks for recreation and fitness. Working with DPW the Planning Board estimates that the cost to build a sidewalk is $170 per linear foot.
Why this matters: Sidewalks make good sense. They improve safety, they’re good for physical and mental health, and they improve access for everyone in the community, particularly young children and seniors.
Article 17: Fire Station 2 upgrades
This article will enable the Fire department to get an architectural and engineering design completed for Station 2, which is located in the district of Woodville.
As we reported in December, Fire Station 2 has fallen into disrepair. The roof is leaky, windows are broken, and the mortar that holds the walls together is cracked and crumbling. The facilities are no longer safe for our firefighters, so all staff have been relocated to Station 1 downtown. As a consequence, emergency calls to the Spring Street / Fruit Street / North Road side of town now take twice as long – up to 15 minutes for some locations – for the fire department to respond as they did when Station 2 was staffed.
Why this matters: Because Fire Station 2 remains unstaffed, residents on the west side of town are unnecessarily imperiled. Fifteen minutes is a long time for someone in cardiac arrest. For the fire department to fulfill its mission Hopkinton’s second station should be operational.