Whately residents table rezoning article, swiftly approve rest of warrant

  • Whately Town Administrator Brian Domina and Selectboard members Fred Baron, Joyce Palmer-Fortune and Jonathan Edwards at Annual Town Meeting Tuesday evening at Whately Elementary School. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

  • Whately residents tabled one article and approved the rest at Annual Town Meeting Tuesday night at Whately Elementary School. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

Staff Writer
Published: 5/25/2022 9:00:57 PM

WHATELY — Voters tabled the final article on the Annual Town Meeting warrant Tuesday over concerns about rezoning, but approved the preceding 25 articles, including a $5.73 million budget and new marijuana zoning bylaws.

Several residents spoke up against Article 26, which proposed rezoning assessors parcel 12-0-24-02, which is located on State Road, from Agricultural Residential District I to Commercial District to allow more commercial uses on the property. Folks in the neighborhood were concerned that allowing more uses on the property would be detrimental to the character of the area.

“I understand the town needs to expand its commercial interests,” said Rich Korpiewski. “But living in a residential home in the Commercial District, there are far less protections for us. This effect will continue to the north as it encroaches up Route 5.”

Abutter Sandy Mazzacane said she was worried rezoning the parcel to Commercial District would result in “another one of those huge buildings.”

The vote to table the article handily passed, with more than 40 voters approving and fewer than 10 against the motion.

Every other article, including the town’s operating budget of $5.73 million, was swiftly approved by voters, except for discussions on Article 24 and 25, which set definitions and uses for “marijuana courier” and “marijuana delivery” businesses.

Planning Board member Brant Cheikes explained the board “concluded these kinds of businesses should be allowed in town” and these bylaws would help the town regulate them.

A marijuana courier, according to the bylaw’s language, would be allowed to deliver “finished” marijuana products, accessories and branded goods directly to consumers, but is not allowed to sell, process, repackage or label such items.

Marijuana delivery, however, would be entities licensed to purchase finished marijuana products and label, sell and deliver these products directly to consumers. These companies would not be authorized to repackage products or operate a storefront. Both uses are only allowed in the Commercial, Commercial/Industrial and Industrial zones by special permit only.

Cheikes said these should be low-impact businesses and the town’s special permit and site review process, combined with the state’s stringent marijuana laws, would ensure neighborhoods are not detrimentally affected.

Other articles approved by residents include:

■Using $55,000 from the Vehicle Stabilization Fund to buy a new hybrid cruiser for the Police Department.

■Reducing Planning Board terms from five years to three years — although member Judy Markland said the board has been doing three-year terms for a long time now, but just recently discovered the town’s bylaws were written for five-year terms.

■Authorizing the Selectboard to obtain temporary and permanent easements on Haydenville Road in anticipation of a roughly $9.6 million reconstruction project, which will be paid for through the Federal Highway Administration. 


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