The structure of government in Groveland is built on public participation in the form of Open Town Meeting, which only requires that a person be a registered voter in order to participate.
This online version Citizen’s Guide was prepared to give residents an overview of town government and hopefully assist in more effective participation. Our aim is to increase the residents’ awareness of town government and help you in becoming a more effective citizen.
The data contained herein, should be used only as a guide. For specific information residents are encouraged to contact the pertinent department or the Selectmen’s Office.
Government in Groveland is characterized by the Open Town Meeting acting as the legislative branch and the Executive Branch composed of elected administrative officers. The most prominent of those elected officers is the Board of Selectmen. The Selectmen are in turn, responsible for the administration of a wide range of areas, primarily by appointments to other offices responsible to the Selectmen. Elected officials are responsible to the electorate. Although the Board of Selectmen has many responsibilities, their relationship with other elected officials/boards/committees, i.e. School Committee, Planning Board, Board of Health, Library Trustees, Tree Warden, Road Commissioner, is one of cooperation rather than directive.
In some cases, the individuals elected to offices in towns are unpaid or receive a nominal payment as their participation is on a part-time volunteer basis. In the other cases, individuals elected or appointed are full time employees of the town, i.e. Town Clerk, Highway Road Commissioner, Town Accountant.
The direct Open Town Meeting predominates in Massachusetts. Every registered voter is eligible to attend and vote on the range of issues before the community, i.e. budget approvals, accepting or rejecting local by-laws, acceptance of Acts of the General Court, etc. The major variation of the Open Town Meeting is the Representative Town Meeting in which towns are divided into voting precincts, each of which elects a number of citizens to vote on the issues of Town Meeting.
Town Meeting functions are similar to those of City Councils.
Generally, it requires little effort to become a candidate for election in Massachusetts, that is, local elections are non partisan and the number of signatures required to appear on the ballot are minimal, relative to the voting population. (Town Clerk’s office has all the specifics)
Time of Election: The Annual Town Election for town officials and other matters to be determined by ballot takes place on the first Monday of May of each year. Polling hours are published prior to the election. State and Federal Elections are held on the first Tuesday in November in even numbered years. State law requires that all polling places be open for at least 10 hours and close by 8:00 p.m.
Polling Place: Within the Town of Groveland there are currently two voting precincts -both within Town Hall, 183 Main Street.
Voter Registration: This is a simple procedure, which is done at the Town Clerk’s Office, or the Registry of Motor Vehicles.
Absentee Ballots: May be obtained from the Town Clerk. Absentee ballots should only be used for legitimate reasons, i.e. hospitalization, will be out of town on election day, etc.
Elective Offices: The Elective Offices in Town are as follows: Selectman – 3 year term; Town Clerk – 3 year term; Assessor – 3 year term; Water/Sewer Commissioner – 3 year term; Electric Light Commissioner – 3 year term; Board of Health member – 3 year term; School Committee member – 3 year term; Cemetery Commissioner – 3 year term; Planning Board member – 5 year term; Library Trustee – 3 year term; Housing Authority Commissioner – 5 year term (4 members elected, 1 member appointed by Governor); Moderator – 1 year term; and Tree Warden – 1 year term.
Getting on the Ballot: See Town Clerk for nomination papers.
Appointment to Boards/Committees: All board/committee appointments are made by the Board of Selectmen. A resume or letter of interest describing the person’s background and interests is beneficial to the Board in making the various appointments. This procedure takes place in the month of June and early July yearly. (Appointed positions are listed in the Annual Town Report.)
Notice of Vacancy: Under General Laws a person must notify the Town Clerk in writing of a vacancy in any form, and as a matter of courtesy they should also notify the Board of Selectmen and the pertinent Chairman of the committee. Under General Law, a vacancy on an elected Board /Committee is filled by a joint appointment of the remaining members of the committee and the Board of Selectmen. Such appointment is until the next Annual Town Meeting.
A vacancy on an appointed Board/Committee is usually filled in the following manner:
- Board of Selectmen accept resignation or announce vacancy
- Board of Selectmen request letters of interest
- Board of Selectmen may hold interviews with interested persons
- Board of Selectmen makes appointment to fill vacancy for rest of unexpired term.
The business of Town Meeting is the acting on articles in the Town Warrant and is held on the last Monday evening in April. The Selectmen may call a Special Town Meeting any time during the year. Voters may also petition for Special Town Meetings by obtaining 200 certified signatures of voters.
The Warrant is the call for Town Meeting and must be posted 14 days prior to the Annual Town Meeting or Special Town Meeting. Copies of the warrant are available in the Selectmen’s Office and will be posted on the town website.
- Articles submitted by petition must be printed in the Warrant as received from the petitioners, who are responsible for all legalities concerning the article.
- Only those items contained on the Warrant may be acted upon by Town Meeting.
- All articles relating to appropriation of money, are reviewed by the Finance Committee who then makes a recommendation on the article at town meeting.
- The warrant is posted at Town Hall, South Groveland Fire Station, and the Little Red School House on Broad Street.
Annual Town Meeting and Special Town Meetings require a quorum of 100 registered voters to act on the warrant.
The Town Moderator is the presiding officer for all town meetings. This is an elective office for a one-year term. The duties of the Moderator are to conduct all town meetings in an orderly manner and he/she is the sole authority for said meetings.
Each department and committee submits a report of their activities for the previous year. These reports are compiled and published annually and usually are available each June.
Copies are available to the general public, without charge, at the Selectmen’s Office. Coordination of the printing of the Town Report is handled by the Selectmen’s Office.
Boards and Meetings
Notice of Meetings: All Town Board meetings must be posted with the Town Clerk at least 48 hours in advance of the meeting. Emergency meetings may be called at any time. Emergency is defined as a situation that will not permit waiting a full forty-eight hours. Emergency meetings must be posted and notice filed with the Town Clerk giving as much public notice as possible.
Open Meeting: Massachusetts has a strong statute regulating local boards. All meetings must be open to the public and press unless the Board votes to go into Executive Session.
Executive Session: There are only certain matters that are eligible to be discussed in Executive Session and these are outlined in the General Laws. There are also specific procedures, which must be adhered to relative to Executive Sessions and are part of the Open Meeting statute.
Record of Meeting: A record must be maintained of all actions taken at a meeting. The records are considered public record and should be available to the public within 10 days of a request to do so. Records of Executive Session may remain secret so long as their publication would defeat the lawful purposes of the Executive Session. Once the Executive Session matter has been resolved, the Chairman must approve the Executive Session Minutes being released and made a part of the Open Session records.
Public Participation during Meetings: Although the public is encouraged to attend Board meetings, participation in discussions is limited to that allowed by the Chairman.
Meeting and Correspondence with the Board of Selectmen: The Board of Selectmen meet bi-weekly on Monday evenings beginning at 6:30 p.m. except when a Monday Holiday occurs, then meetings are on Tuesday. All items for discussion and/or action are placed on an agenda and posted on the Meeting Notice posted on the bulletin board outside of the Town Clerk’s office. Requests for meetings with the Board should be submitted in writing with an explanation of the subject matter and the amount of time anticipated the matter will need and must be referred to the Finance Director for placement on an agenda. All requests must be received by noon on the Wednesday prior to the Monday meeting date.
Public Hearing: All Public Hearings are held in accordance with General Laws of Massachusetts.
Selectmen Fee Schedule
Alcohol Licensing Fees:
- Club Licenses: $1,300
- Wines and Malt Beverages: $1,000
- All Kinds of Alcoholic Beverages: $1,200
- General On Premise License: $1,300
- Common Victualer Licenses: $1,300
- Common Victualer: $100
- BYOB: $150
Class II Used Car Dealer’s License: $100
Where to find Licenses and Permits
As citizens are often unaware of the town’s requirements regarding licenses and permits, the following list indicates various licenses and permits and the department responsible for issuance.
|Birth Certificate||Town Clerk|
|Marriage Certificate||Town Clerk|
|Death Certificate||Town Clerk|
|Business Certificate||Town Clerk|
|Building Permit||Building Inspector|
|Wiring Permit||Electrical Inspector through Building Department|
|Gas/Plumbing Permit||Plumbing Inspector through Building Department|
|Swimming Pool Installation||Building Inspector|
|Firearms I.D. Card||Police Department|
|Pistol Permit||Police Department|
|Burning Permit||Fire Department|
|Dog License||Town Clerk|
|Yard Sale||Town Clerk|
|Auction||Chief of Police|
|Class I, II, III License||Selectmen|
|Pines Boat Ramp||Collector’s Office|
|Special Permit/Variance||Town Planner/Zoning Administrator|