BY-LAWS OF THE JAMAICA PLAIN NEIGHBORHOOD COUNCIL
ARTICLE 1 – Name:
The name of this organization shall be the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council.
ARTICLE 2 – Purpose:
The purpose of the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council is to increase and improve communication between the entire Jamaica Plain community and the city of Boston and other public agencies and parties. The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council brings together a cross-section of the economically, ethnically, geographically and otherwise diverse Jamaica Plain community to make decisions and recommendations regarding development, service delivery, youth affairs and other public issues in our shared neighborhood. Working with residents, business people, young people, local organizations and representatives of all levels of government, the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council offers the people of Jamaica Plain, including youth of all ages, the opportunity to participate fully and directly in governing neighborhood affairs.
ARTICLE 3 – Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council Area:
The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council area is bounded by Brookline to the west, Huntington Avenue between the Brookline border and South Huntington Avenue, South Huntington Avenue from Huntington Avenue to Heath Street, Heath Street from South Huntington Avenue to Columbus Avenue, Columbus Avenue from Heath Street to Dimock Street, Dimock Street from Columbus Avenue to Washington Street, Washington Street from Dimock Street to Cobden Street, Cobden Street from Washington Street to Walnut Street, Walnut Street to Franklin Park, Franklin Park, Canterbury Street to Forest Hills Cemetery, Forest Hills Cemetery to Neponset Avenue, Neponset Avenue to Hyde Park Avenue, Hyde Park Avenue to Crosstown Street, Crosstown Street to the Arnold Arboretum, and Allandale Street, including the following significant open space areas: Franklin Park and the Arnold Arboretum in its entirety (area referred to hereafter as “Jamaica Plain”).
ARTICLE 4 – Membership:
Elected membership to the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council is open to all residents of the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council area sixteen years of age or older. Persons owning businesses and directors of nonprofit organizations within Jamaica Plain are also eligible for membership. The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council shall have twenty (20) members, of whom a minimum of sixteen shall reside in Jamaica Plain. Council members will be representative of the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council areas as follows: five seats are assigned to eligible persons residing in, or representing, Area “A,” five seats are assigned to eligible persons residing in, or representing, Area “B,” five seats are assigned to eligible persons residing in, or representing, Area “C,” and five at-large seats are assigned to eligible persons residing in, or representing, any location within Jamaica Plain. Any member who moves out of Jamaica Plain, or out of the area the member represents, during the member’s term on the Council, shall be allowed to serve the remainder of their term. Any non-resident member who ceases to be a business owner or executive director (or equivalent) of a non-profit organization in Jamaica Plain during the member’s term on the Council shall immediately resign and their seat on the Council treated as a vacancy.
ARTICLE 5 – Officers:
The officers shall be Chair, Vice-Chair, and Secretary/Treasurer. Officers shall be elected by the membership of the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council from among its members by the second meeting following the biennial election of members, and shall serve a term of one year or until their successors are elected and duly seated. Duties of the Council officers shall be:
Presides at Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council meetings and Executive Committee meetings and is the official spokesperson regarding decisions and actions of the Council. The Chair is a member ex officio of all Council committees.
Acts as Chair in the Chair’s absence. The Vice-chair is a member ex officio of all Council committees.
Writes routine correspondence on behalf of the Neighborhood Council and is responsible for overseeing communication, including arranging for the preparation of the minutes of Council meetings, and the preparation and dissemination of Council agendas in conjunction with the Chair and Executive Committee, and public notices of Council meetings. Receives and disburses funds on behalf of the Council, maintains financial reports, reports on JPNC financial status. Establishes and maintains a separate bank account on behalf of the JPNC and prepares and presents financial reports. The Secretary/Treasurer is a member ex officio of all Council committees.
ARTICLE 6 – Powers and Responsibilities:
The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council shall serve as an advocate and ombudsman for Jamaica Plain residents, organizations, and business people on issues relating to development, service delivery, youth affairs, and such other matters as may be brought to the attention of the members by the residents and members as affecting the Jamaica Plain community. The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council shall make decisions in the form of recommendations, resolutions, and/or proposals regarding those issues and communicate them to appropriate city officials and/or other appropriate agencies or parties. The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council shall monitor the outcome of all decisions, receiving and making periodic progress reports to the members and the community at large.
ARTICLE 7 – Committees:
The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council shall conduct its business through its working committees which shall consist of both elected Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council members and interested community participants. The Council working committees shall review all issues and concerns brought before them and make recommendations to the Council. Council Committees also may initiate investigation of issues and concerns within their respective jurisdictions to make recommendations to the Council. All Council members shall be regular participants in at least one committee of the Council. Committees may include, but are not limited to, an Executive Committee and committees which deal with business, service delivery and other public issues.
The Executive Committee, composed of the officers of the Council and the Chairs of the Council committees, shall meet between Council meetings to review and make recommendations to the Council on process, procedural and other issues not within the jurisdiction of any of the other Council committees. In addition, the Executive Committee shall advise officers regarding carrying out specific duties, assign issues and concerns which may arise to appropriate committees, including joint or ad hoc committees, for review and recommendation, and, on advice from the Council, Council committees, the public, and/or government representatives, determine a tentative agenda for the following Council meetings. The Executive Committee shall oversee community participation in the Council, taking all possible steps to ensure that a cross-section of Jamaica Plain, including minorities, women, the elderly, and youth is represented in Council work. To accomplish the foregoing and to allow the Council to function as may be necessary in matters not admitting of delay, the Executive Committee shall be authorized to act on behalf of the Council between Council meetings and shall, in each such instance, promptly notify the Council of having taken such interim action. The Executive Committee may, under appropriate circumstances, meet or make necessary decisions telephonically or by electronic or other appropriate means.
The Council working committees shall review and make recommendations to the Council regarding development and service delivery and other public issues as may have been assigned to them by the Council in accordance with these by-laws. Committees may take public action in the name of the full Council, such as issuing policy letters, press releases, and recommendations to governmental agencies, only with the authorization of the Council or the Executive Committee. The Chairs and Vice-chairs or Secretaries/Treasurers of the Council committees shall be elected by, and from, the members of the Council. No Council member shall chair more than one committee, excluding ad hoc committees. Membership of each committee shall consist of not more than fifteen (15) members, and not less than three (3), nor more than five (5) Council members, not including the Chair, the Vice-chair, and the Secretary of the Council. In the absence of the Chair and Vice-chair of a committee, only a Council member may chair a meeting of a committee. Chairs shall report to the Council on member recruitment efforts and submit names, addresses, occupations, and contact information of committee members to the Council for approval annually at the October meeting of the Council, or within thirty (30) days of
the appointment of a new committee Chair or any new member. Nor may any vote be taken by any person whose membership on a committee has not been approved by the Council as aforesaid. The committees and their respective functions are as follows:
Zoning Committee: Responsibilities include the review of appeals to the city’s Board of Appeal concerning conditional use permits, changes of occupancy, variances from Article 55 (Jamaica Plain Neighborhood District) of the city’s Zoning Code, and the review and monitoring of actions and decisions of, and the entering into agreements with, the Boston Redevelopment Authority or any other governmental department or agency having jurisdiction of building and/or land use matters and the monitoring of enforcement of the Zoning and Building Codes including, but not limited to, all building and land use projects subject to Boston Redevelopment Authority, Board of Appeal, Inspectional Services Department or other governmental approvals.
Public Service Committee: Responsibilities include public safety, police – judiciary/community relations, crime related problems, neighborhood crime watch, maintenance and repair of streets, sidewalks and public ways, street lights, trash and snow removal, residential and non-residential traffic and parking, transportation, and alcohol, entertainment and victualler licensing.
Parks & Open Space: Responsibilities include the promotion of green space, including concern for the issues of maintenance, management, location and access; parks, playgrounds and other public passive or active recreational areas.
Housing & Development Committee: The mission of the Housing and Development Committee is to advocate on behalf of the community in all matters related to the development and preservation of housing and commercial properties and to encourage the inclusion of affordable housing and affordable commercial space where possible and practical. The Committee’s responsibilities include (1) monitoring current housing and development projects and related initiatives in the community, including the disposition of public lands for residential, commercial and non-profit use, (2) working with the City of Boston and JPNC to assure a forum for community input to housing and development projects and initiatives (which responsibility does not diminish the City’s independent obligation to provide adequate public process in all such matters), (3) providing a forum for discussion of development priorities and objectives at the conceptual and planning stages, and (4) ensuring compliance with all of the JPNC’s policies and guidelines relating to housing and development.
Ad Hoc Committees:
Ad Hoc and Joint Committees may be created by the Council from time to time and shall, upon their creation, be subject to the same rules as standing committees, other than as follows: (1) the Chair of an Ad Hoc committee shall not by virtue of that office become a member of the Executive Committee; (2) without action by the Council to renew the committee’s mandate, the committee shall be disbanded on the one-year anniversary of its creation.
ARTICLE 8 – Meetings:
The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council shall meet a minimum of ten (10) times per year on a regular schedule set by the Council and announced to the public. Notices of meetings and tentative agendas will be furnished by the Council and Council committees to the local papers and other places as the Council or Council Committee deems appropriate, in time for publication no later than ten days prior to a regular Council or Committee meeting. The Executive Committee for the Council and the respective Council Committees shall exercise their best efforts to ensure that these notices of their meetings are given promptly and on a timely basis. Committees shall meet a minimum of ten (10) times per year and meetings shall be publicized adequately. All meetings of the Council, the Executive Committee, and other Council committees shall be open to the public. The Chair, with approval of the Executive Committee, or upon petition of eight Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council members shall convene a special meeting of the Council with a minimum of seventy-two (72) hours written or telephonic or electronic notice to all currently serving members.
ARTICLE 9 – Public Participation:
Any person entitled to vote in the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council election is eligible to serve on Council committees, and any such person may bring an issue to the Council via any individual Council member, committee, or Council meeting. All issues that require review will be referred to an appropriate committee for review and recommendation to the Council. Public participation in Council deliberations shall be structured as follows: Council members discuss the issue; members of the public may speak for a prescribed amount of time; Council members discuss and make a decision. All efforts shall be made to obtain Spanish translations of meetings and minutes and to publicize notices in Spanish and/or in other languages as appropriate.
ARTICLE 10 – Quorum:
A quorum of the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council is one-half plus one of the currently serving members of the Council. Unless otherwise provided by a prior vote of the Council committee concerned, and approved by the Council, a quorum of any Council working committee shall be FIVE of the currently serving members of the committee, and a quorum of the Executive Committee shall be a majority of the currently-serving members. No Council or Council committee votes shall be taken unless a quorum is present.
ARTICLE 11 – Voting:
The Council’s and Council committees’ decisions shall be made by a simple majority of those members present, provided a quorum is present. There shall be no proxy voting.
ARTICLE 12 – Resignation/Removal of Members and Officers:
Any Council or committee member, Council or committee Chair or other officer may resign at any time by delivering his or her written resignation, in the case of a Council officer or member, to the Council or to any Council officer and, in the case of a committee officer or member, to the respective Council committee or any committee officer. Resignation shall be effective on the date specified in the notice of resignation.
Members, officers and committee Chairs may be removed by the Council only for good cause shown. “Good cause shown” shall include, but not be limited to, absence from three consecutive regularly scheduled Council meetings, persistent non-participation in committee work, or absence from more than five regularly scheduled Council meetings in the prior twelve months . Following the presentation of reason or reasons for removal of a member, officer or committee Chair at a regular Council meeting, the Council shall vote on whether to consider removal. If the member being considered for removal is not present at that meeting, written notice of the Council vote shall be delivered to the member or sent via registered or certified mail within ten days of the Council meeting. After any vote by the Council to consider removal of a member, officer or committee Chair, the individual who is the subject of the vote shall be given an opportunity to resign at or before the next regular Council meeting. Removal of a member, officer or committee Chair shall be by a two-thirds vote of those present at the following regular Council meeting provided there is a quorum present at the time of the vote.
ARTICLE 13 – Vacancies:
Any vacancy in the Council membership shall be announced at the earliest Executive Committee and/or Council meeting. Nominations for replacement members may be made at any of the following two consecutive Council meetings after the vacancy is announced. Vacancies may be filled by a majority vote of the Council at the second meeting at which nominations are accepted or at any following meeting. Every effort will be made to fill Council vacancies with persons who respond to the same residential or other constituency as their predecessors, however the Council may appoint any suitable person to fill a vacancy, regardless of their place of residence or other affiliation. Officer or committee Chair vacancies may be filled by taking nominations and voting at the earliest possible meeting following announcement of the vacancy, including the meeting at which the vacancy is announced.
ARTICLE 14 – Changes in By-Laws:
The Council may vote to refer proposed changes in the by-laws to the Executive Committee or to an ad hoc by- laws committee for review and recommendation to the Council at the next meeting of the Council. The by-laws may be changed by a two-thirds vote of those present at any following Council meeting, provided there is a quorum of the Council present at the time of the vote.
ARTICLE 15 – Elections:
Elections to the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council shall be conducted every two years at locations within Jamaica Plain. An Ad Hoc Elections Committee appointed from among the members of the Council shall be responsible for the conduct of the elections pursuant to the rules and guidelines set forth in the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council Elections Handbook, which may be amended by two-thirds vote of the Council. Candidates for the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council must meet the eligibility requirements set forth in Article 4 of these By-Laws. Those elected in the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council election shall assume office at the next Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council meeting following the election.
ARTICLE 16 – Conflict of Interest:
The determination of any conflicts of interest for both Council and committee members shall be governed by Massachusetts General Laws, c. 268A, as applicable to “special municipal employees.” In addition, the Members and Officers of The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council and its committees are bound by three ethical duties with respect to all potential conflicts of interest:
1) A duty of loyalty, to serve at all times the best interest of the Council and the community. A Council or committee member is expected to place the needs of the Council and the community above their own personal interests
2) A duty of care and good faith, to act in all Council and committee matters with common sense diligence, and informed judgment.
3) A duty of faithfulness to the mission of the Council and its committees.
Without limiting the duties and obligations set forth in this Article, conflicts of interest may arise where a member, officer, or committee member has an existing or potential financial or personal interest that could interfere with that individual’s independent or objective judgment, or ability to discharge of any of the duties set forth above, in any decision to come before the Council or its committees.
Council and committee members shall recuse themselves from voting on or participating in the discussion of any matter in which they have a conflict of interest. In any matter in which a Council or committee member has a potential conflict of interest, that member shall fully disclose the nature of the potential conflict at the earliest possible opportunity to the Council or committee in which the matter shall be under consideration. Following such disclosure by a member, the Council or committee (as the case may be) shall vote by simple majority as to whether that member shall recuse themselves from any discussion or voting on the matter. A person who recuses themselves from considering a matter due to an actual or potential conflict of interest shall not be present during the discussion or voting on such matter.
Recognizing that many Council and committee members are active in other volunteer civic organizations throughout Jamaica Plain and Boston, it shall not be a conflict of interest for any Council or committee member to discuss and vote on matters which they have considered before as members of other volunteer councils, committees, commissions, or similar organizations. It is expected that members shall use any knowledge or perspective gained from said organizations to provide insight and clarification for the Council or committee.
Approved by JPNC: June 27, 1995, (updated through September 30, 2008) (updated May 25, 2010)