Rare lack of quorum cancels Portsmouth council meeting

Aug. 13 meeting will consider 2nd annual ‘Bike & Stroll’ event

By Jim McGaw
Posted 7/8/24

PORTSMOUTH — Town Council President Kevin Aguiar made a surprise announcement at the start of Monday’s regular meeting: There would be no meeting.

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Rare lack of quorum cancels Portsmouth council meeting

Aug. 13 meeting will consider 2nd annual ‘Bike & Stroll’ event


PORTSMOUTH — Town Council President Kevin Aguiar made a surprise announcement at the start of Monday’s regular meeting: There would be no meeting.

“Unfortunately, due to some unanticipated circumstances, we do not have a quorum tonight, so we will not be able to conduct our Town Council meeting,” Aguiar said from his seat at Town Hall.

It was the first time in recent memory that a council meeting was canceled due to a lack of a quorum. There are seven council seats, and at least four members need to be present for a meeting to be legal.

Aguiar said the council will next meet at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 13.

The council was to consider several items of business at Monday’s meeting, all of which will presumably be bumped to Aug. 13. 

They include a request by the Island Park Preservation Society and Bike Newport to host the second annual Sakonnet Coastal Bike & Stroll Event from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Sept. 14 (rain date is Sept. 21).

The inaugural car-free event was held without incident on Sept. 9, 2023, with about 400 participants. Portsmouth Police, the Department of Public Works, and the R.I. Department of Transportation, along with more than 25 volunteers, planned and coordinated the event.

The route is from Park Avenue, just east of Mason Avenue, to the railroad overpass at Anthony Road. Sunset Cove, at 706 Park Ave., is the event hub and where brief welcoming remarks and the event kickoff will begin at 8:45 a.m.

A temporary parking ban along the route will begin at 1 a.m. on the morning of the event, and continue through noon. 

A letter will be circulated to residents along the route that will encourage them to join the fun, and to plan ahead with alternate timing or by pre-positioning a vehicle outside the route if possible. Occasional vehicles that have no alternative but to transit the route will await a police escort to safely traverse the route to the nearest outlet. Police officers and volunteers will be on hand to assist residents, with calling for police escorts as a last resort.

Other agenda items

Other items on Monday’s agenda included:

• A public hearing to consider a proposed amendment to the motor vehicles and traffic ordinance to add language regarding low-speed vehicles (LSV). An LSV is defined as a four-wheeled motor vehicle that’s under 3,000 pounds in weight and has a top speed of between 20 and 25 mph. It must meet National Highway Traffic Safety Administration standards and be registered, insured and inspected. A valid driver’s license is required to operate an LSV. The proposed amendment would prohibit the use of LSVs on roadways with a speed limit of 35 mph or more. That would include West Main Road from the Middletown town line to West Passage Drive, on East Main Road from the Middletown line to Sandy Point Avenue, and on East Main Road from Union Street to Hedly Street. An LSV may cross a public highway at an intersection with a posted speed limit between 35 and 45 mph.

• A proposal by the Butts Hill Fort Restoration Committee for the selective removal of trees and shrubs to stabilize and maintain the southern earthworks area of Butts Hill Fort. 

• A request for approval of a memorandum of agreement between the Town of Portsmouth and the Portsmouth Fire Fighters Union Local No. 1949, International Association of Fire Fighters, AFL-CIO.

• The appointment of a new Town Council vice president in the wake of Leonard Katzman’s recent resignation from the council. The council is also expected to appoint someone to fill that vacancy on the panel on Aug. 13.

• A request by Town Clerk Jennifer West to use about $16,670 from her office’s special revenue account for technology upgrades and document preservation to restore an 1860 map of Newport and vicinity, “otherwise known as the Island of the Narragansett Bay.” The map, West said in a letter to the council, “is in serious disrepair and needs extensive conservation.” The Northeast Document Conservation Center in Andover, Mass., would lead the restoration work.

• A request to hire Vision Government Solutions to conduct a town-wide property revaluation next year. Vision was the only company to submit a bid to the town by the June 5 deadline, at a cost of $366,000.

Portsmouth Town Council

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