UXBRIDGE – At town meeting Tuesday, it was all about the soil: how it came to Uxbridge, how it was monitored, what it might be doing to the water supply and what should be done about it.

And from the get-go, when resident Justin Piccirillo asked Town Moderator Charles E. “Ed” Maharay to go out of order and first take up Article 17, a citizen petition to allow a process for elected officials to be removed, it was clear residents wanted to see changes.

The citizen petition to allow a process to remove elected officials received a two-thirds majority to pass, with 152 votes in favor out of 215 cast.

A proposed bylaw to regulate earth removal and soil importation, Article 10, which was amended after negotiations between selectmen, the town manager and the grass-roots group Uxbridge Citizens for Clean Water, also received a two-thirds majority to pass, with 200 votes in favor and 32 opposed.
Mr. Piccirillo said he was disappointed about having to bring the citizen petition, but he saw a “widening disconnect” between town officials and citizens. He pointed in particular to members of the Board of Selectmen and others whom he faulted with giving deference to landowners’ rights over community well-being and not sufficiently overseeing the town manager who signed a letter of support for two controversial soil importation projects.

Alluding to the soil projects at reclamation sites on Millville Road and South Street, he said, “I want people to think about the liabilities in which our town might now be a responsible party.”

Under the citizen petition, the article, which amends the town charter, would first have to be approved by the attorney general and then by voters at the town election in spring.

If the charter is so amended, a citizen could obtain 200 signatures to have the Board of Selectmen call a special town meeting or place the petitioned removal on the annual town meeting warrant. The citizen would have to give reasons for removing the official at town meeting and a two-thirds majority would be required for the official’s removal.

Selectman Peter Baghdasarian spoke against Article 17, claiming the amended version presented at town meeting differed significantly from the article on the warrant.

The soil importation bylaw, Article 10, addressed concerns head-on over the tension surrounding reclaiming private land with soil imported from construction sites in Eastern Massachusetts and elsewhere.

Dr. David Tapscott, representing Uxbridge Citizens for Clean Water, said “We feel this bylaw is a necessity.”