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Darien Updating its Town Charter

Darien's Town Charter is getting a facelift. In a presentation to the Representative Town Meeting Monday night, Frank Kemp and Sarah Seelye of the RTM's Town Government Structure and Administration Committee outlined their plan to bring the document up to date and make it easier to comprehend.

"Most of us are older than this charter," Kemp said in his presentation. The charter, which basically acts as the Constitution for the town, was not created until 1959, even though the town was incorporated in 1820. Since its creation, it has been amended 23 times, but only three of the updates were made in the last 10 years.

"There will be no policy changes. We're dealing with obsolete issues, out of date issues," Seelye said. The changes include removing outdated information, such as references to the Department of Water and Sewage and the Town Court, neither of which currently exists. They will also be changing the descriptions of some of the town positions, such as Town Clerk, and cleaning up the language to make it more readable.

"I don't know if any of you have looked at the charter, but it is a massive, daunting document. It doesn't flow well, and it's overrun with painful, outdated minutiae," Seelye said of the 260-page document.

Kemp said that in the past dozen years there have been two committees tasked with revising the document, but that their revisions, which made unpopular public policy changes, were thrown out in a referendum. All the changes they had made to clean up language and remove obsolete items were thrown out as well. Kemp believes it is time those changes were made.

"It's only reasonable to revisit the text of our founding document at least every 50 years," he said.

Before any changes can be made, a public hearing must be held, and the changes must be approved by a majority of all RTM members.

What do you think about updating the town charter? Do you think documents like this should be changed to reflect the times? Share your thoughts in the comments below, on Facebook or on Twitter .

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