Last night, the Planning Board discussed its plans for upcoming public hearings on warrant articles slated for the Annual Town Meeting. Two of the articles are new compromises reached on issues tabled at the Special Town Meeting in October: Medical Marijuana dispensary zoning and Barn Hollow Open Space land parcel acceptance.
The compromises were reached based on efforts of the working groups on these issues. As most Planning Board members weren’t involved in that process, Board Member Paul Cimino laid out the details for colleagues Kathleen Bartolini and Andrew Mills.
Cimino asked everyone to keep in mind that nothing will proceed to ATM until public hearings are held for community feedback.
Medical Marijauana Dispensary Zoning
The Working Group on this issue included Town Planner Jennifer Burney and Board of Health Director Louis Fazen. The new compromise version of this bylaw includes:
- Zoning in the industrial zones that abut Route 9 in addition to industrial park zone.
- No required setback from residential zoning.
- A 500 foot setback from daycares, schools, and recreation.
- One exception to the recreation setback: an area across from a reservoir. (The area isn’t actually used for recreation. Without that section included, the zoning was still deemed too limiting.)
The new zoning is more easily accessed and offers more options than the original zoning drafted last summer.
Cimino assured his colleagues that Fazen has promised to advocate for this version with his board. Today’s Board of Health meeting agenda includes an update on the issue.
The biggest complaint lodged against a similar proposed bylaw at the October Special Town Meeting seemed to be that the last minute compromise was a “bait and switch.” Many residents believed that people needed time to review the bylaw and its impact before voting.
The Planning Board hopes to post the proposed bylaw and map in time to open a public hearing on Monday, February 24.
Barn Hollow Open Space
The Working Group on this issue included Selectman John Rooney, Town Planner Jennifer Burney, Open Space Preservation Commission, Kevin Giblin and the homeowners. While there was never a meeting that included all parties in one room, all were consulted in an effort to draft the compromise.
Neither OSPC or the homeowners had yet to seen the version of the compromise Cimino outlined last night. However, he believed that it captured the essence of what both of those parties were seeking in earlier discussions.
If the proposed measure is approved:
- The entirety of the originally agreed 7.65 acres of Open Space will be deeded to the town.
- The majority of the perimeter strip, currently undisturbed, would remain that way.
- The town would grant individual easements to the small areas that are currently disturbed (allowing for current landscaping maintenance but no building or structures.)
- The $5,000 bond originally granted by the developer to allow maintenance of the open space will no longer be needed. Instead, the bond will be granted to the town to allow the town to continue work on reforming the open space process and bylaw.
- The developer will pay for expenses related to filing the easements.
If plans and materials are ready to post publicly in advance, the Planning Board hopes to open a public hearing on Monday, March 10.