Nahant votes to lower quorum requirements for Town Meeting

Nahant Town Hall. (Jakob Menendez )

NAHANT — The Board of Selectmen voted unanimously to reduce the town’s Town Meeting quorum requirements from 75 to 30 residents at a meeting Wednesday night.

In 2020, former Gov. Charlie Baker signed the Acts of 2020, a series of laws and regulations aimed at reducing the impact of COVID-19. Chapter 92 of the Acts of 2020 allows municipalities to reduce their Town Meeting quorums — or minimum voter participation — down to 10% of their pre-existing quorum requirements.

Town Administrator Tony Barletta said the town hoped to pass a quorum reduction before last year’s meeting, but failed to notify the public within seven days of the vote.

With a Special Town Meeting slated for Tuesday, Sept. 12, Barletta said the reduced quorum would ensure that the meeting would proceed as planned.

“We could go as low as seven and a half people, but we obviously don’t need to go that low. I suspect that we’ll likely probably hit 75 people anyway, but just as a precaution,” Barletta said. “It’s going to be a Tuesday-night Special Town Meeting in September and we want to make sure we get quorum.”

Board Chairman Mark Cullinan said he agreed with the change as a precaution for September’s Special Town Meeting, however, he thought it might act as a “double-edged sword” if adapted regularly.

“Having 75 (people), sometimes people realize they have to get there,” he said.

When resident Michelle Capano asked board members why they chose to use a law intended to ease COVID-19 effects long after the end of the state of emergency, Town Counsel Daniel Skrip responded that the law remains in effect despite the end of the public-health emergency.

“It’s still the same. It’s the same act that allows us to meet in this capacity tonight,” Skrip said.

More Stories From Nahant