Jones Library project foes: Petition decision violated Open Meeting Law

Staff Writer
Published: 5/6/2021 8:26:34 PM

AMHERST — A complaint that the town’s Board of Registrars violated the state’s Open Meeting Law when it met last month to allow the town clerk’s office to certify signatures on a voter veto petition effort has been filed with state attorney general’s office.

Petitioners seeking to have a townwide referendum on the $36.3 million Jones Library project announced in a statement Thursday that they filed the complaint in advance of a 10 a.m. Friday meeting by the registrars.

The complaint stems from a brief April 21 Board of Registrars meeting that petitioners say was inadequate to inform the public of the subject to be discussed. The petitioners also say there was “impermissible deliberation” before the meeting, and that the board failed to conduct deliberations in public about delegation of authority to the town clerk’s office.

Marla Jamate, a lead petitioner, said in a statement that she is asking registrars “re-hold” the April 21 meeting, and conduct a new meeting in compliance with the state law.

In addition, the petitioners continue to appeal and object to the failure by the town clerk’s office to certify enough signatures for a successful voter veto petition. Of the 1,088 signatures submitted, 842 were certified, fewer than the 864 needed to call on the Town Council to overturn its affirmative for the library renovation and expansion.

Since then, in addition to the rejected Hampshire Superior Court lawsuit that asked for relief from the rules of the voter veto provision of the charter, including extending deadlines, the petitioners have filed 89 affidvavits from res who claim their signatures were not tallied.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.


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