Marijuana bylaw changes top Deerfield special Town Meeting warrant

  • Deerfield voters will be asked to approve seven articles on the warrant at special Town Meeting Thursday evening, including one that seeks approval to “significantly change” the existing marijuana bylaw. AP FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 10/20/2020 2:20:02 PM

DEERFIELD — Voters will be asked to approve seven articles on the warrant at Special Town Meeting Thursday evening, including one that seeks approval to “significantly change” the existing marijuana bylaw.

The meeting is scheduled to start 5 p.m. on the football field at Frontier Regional School on North Main Street.

The proposed change to the marijuana bylaw, which is outlined in Article 7, would pull marijuana cultivation out of the Residential-Agricultural district, which represents most of the town, according to Selectboard member Trevor McDaniel

“We’ve changed the map considerably,” McDaniel said. “The Selectboard agreed with it, because we do understand it’s not really an agricultural thing.”

The new map includes three Marijuana Overlay districts; one for cultivation, manufacturing and retail; one for just retail; and one for cultivation and manufacturing.

“We’re always looking for some areas to have revenue,” he said. “I think it’s a good compromise.”

A final public hearing on the changes is scheduled for Wednesday at 7 p.m. Anyone interested can join via Zoom at bit.ly/34g8w6m or by dialing 1-929-205-6099.

Article 4, meanwhile, seeks voter approval to use an additional $1 million in Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds for the construction of recreational fields, foot and bicycle paths, with parking.

“We’re going to put a park just north of Frontier,” McDaniel said. “We purchased that at Annual Town Meeting in the spring.”

The parcel of land purchased by the town was one of two parcels put before voters at Annual Town Meeting in June. The purchase of the second parcel of land, however, was rejected by voters.

McDaniel said the scope and cost of the project has grown since the spring, and therefore more money is needed from the town’s CPA funds.

“We hope that in seven or eight years, (the CPA account) will replenish itself,” McDaniel said. “That account has grown quite a bit over the years.”

He said the largest project the town has used its CPA funding for was the elementary school park.

“This park is really important,” he said. “We haven’t had a town park since we built the grammar school 20 years ago.”

The article requires a two-thirds vote.

“Whatever we get back from a grant or do not spend, we would vote back into the CPA fund,” he said.

In other town business, Article 3, which is a consent article, groups multiple financial articles together — some of which involve transferring money between various town accounts. Others deal with capital projects put off in the spring, including the purchase of a pick-up truck for the Highway Department and mobile data terminals for police cruisers.

“We brought those up with the Finance Committee and Capital Planning, and they felt it would make sense,” McDaniel said.

Article 2 asks voters to authorize the Selectboard to petition the state to enact a special act, which would exempt three of the town’s police officers — Robert Warger, Joseph Mieczkowski and Raymond Burniske — from the mandatory retirement age of 65 years old.

Article 5 asks voters to accept Merrigan Way, as altered by various town departments, as a public way. Voters are also asked to approve amendments to the Flood Plain District described in Article 6.

A complete copy of the warrant can be found on the town website at deerfieldma.us.

Mary Byrne can be reached at mbyrne@recorder.com or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne




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