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West County Notebook, Nov. 17, 2017


Thursday, November 16, 2017
Hawley seeks moratorium on recreational pot

HAWLEY — The Planning Board will hold a public hearing Tuesday, Nov. 21, at 6 p.m. on an amendment to the town’s “Protective Zoning Bylaw,” adding a temporary moratorium on recreational marijuana establishments. The meeting will take place in the Town Office.

“Recreational marijuana establishment” refers to a marijuana grower, independent testing laboratory, marijuana product manufacturer, retailer or any other type of licensed marijuana business.

Although the state’s recreational marijuana law requires a Cannabis Control Commission to issue regulations on licensing commercial activities by March 15, 2018, town planners are seeking more time to consider amending its zoning bylaws. “The regulation … raises novel legal, planning and public safety issues,” says the proposed moratorium article.

A special town meeting is tentatively planned for mid-December.

State AG questions industrial zoning bylaw

SHELBURNE — The Planning Board may have to tweak its new “Siting Large Scale Industrial and Commercial Facilities” zoning bylaw to get full approval by the state’s Attorney General’s Office.

The new zoning bylaw was approved at annual town meeting, but Attorney General Maura Healey’s office sent Town Clerk Joseph Judd a 10-page letter about some conditions they questioned.

“Except for the text … that authorizes the Zoning Board of Appeals to set speed limits, we approve Article 41 ...” the letter says.

The Selectboard agreed to let the Planning Board meet with Town Counsel Donna MacNicol, to go over the letter and see what needs to be done to bring the zoning bylaw into compliance with state regulations.

The bylaw, as written, would allow the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) to reduce the speed limit on stretches of road “that may present public safety hazards for trucks hauling construction materials.”

The document says the zoning bylaw’s “Road Use and Construction Site Access,” conflicts with state law, which only authorizes selectboards (not zoning boards) to set speed limits.

Another concern was a measure requiring the applicant to post a bond to cover any damages to public or private property resulting from construction, operation or maintenance of a large scale industrial and commercial facility.

Other concerns raised in the AG’s letter were that the town cannot require an applicant to provide fire protection training for emergency responders or re-construction and post-construction freshwater well-testing for properties within 750 feet of the project — especially since the property owner’s consent would be required in such cases.

Board hires architect for Memorial Hall study

SHELBURNE — The Selectboard has hired architect Jeremy Coleman to conduct a feasibility study for renovations to be made to Memorial Hall. Within three to four months, Coleman is to make a presentation with engineering drawings and recommendations for renovations of the building, especially the upstairs theater area. Last May, annual town meeting voters agreed to spend $10,000 on this study. Proposed renovations have included replacing the narrow, wooden chairs, adding a backstage bathroom for performers upstairs, lobby renovations and an electrical upgrade.

No name yet for 250th celebration

SHELBURNE — The Shelburne 250th anniversary committee is still looking for an enticing logo to put on the town’s 250th-year memorabila. Selectmen said the entries in a logo contest were rejected, so the contest continues. The winning logo will be used on a town celebration website, on quarter-millennial clothing and memorabilia. Also, the winner will receive a $250 cash prize.

For other details, contact Town Clerk Joseph Judd.

The next 250 Committee meeting is set for Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. in Memorial Hall.

Community meeting moved to Nov. 30

SHELBURNE FALLS — A community meeting hosted by the Greater Shelburne Falls Area Business Association has been rescheduled to Thursday, Nov. 30, 6 p.m. at the Eagles Club on State Street. The purpose of the meeting is to brainstorm ideas for the village of Shelburne Falls area. Refreshments are available, along with a cash bar. The meeting was originally Nov. 16.

Selectboard to pay for parking, not parking tickets

SHELBURNE — Selectmen said the town should pay parking rates when town officials go out-of-town for workshops and conferences — but not for parking fines. A town assessor, attending a six-hour meeting in Northampton recently received a $15 parking fine because he failed to return to the parking meter with change before the meter expired.

The Selectboard agreed that paying for parking tickets would open a “Pandora’s box” and indirectly encourages carelessness. Had the assessor parked in Northampton’s parking garage, they said, they would have been able to reimburse that cost.

Two finance members resign

SHELBURNE — Willow Cohen and Tam Hanna have resigned from the town Finance Committee, and their resignations were accepted with regret and a letter of thanks for their service. The board now has three members.

Buckland keeps single tax rate

BUCKLAND — The Selectboard agreed to retain a single tax rate for the town. The Board of Assessors are waiting for the town’s “free cash” revenues to be certified by the state before they can announce the new tax rate.

Conservation Commission fills two vacancies

BUCKLAND — Kathy Lytle is the newest conservation commissioner. She was appointed this week, to fill the unexpired term of former commissioner Janet Sinclair, who resigned last month. Lytle will serve through June, unless she runs for election this spring.

James Sullivan was appointed in late October to fill a vacancy and will serve a three-year term.

Buckland to enforce parking ticket payment

BUCKLAND — The Selectboard has hired deputy tax collectors Jeffrey & Jeffrey of Ware to “put some teeth” into collection of past-due parking ticket fees.

From now on, those who don’t pay their parking tickets to the Parking Clerk Janice Purington within 21 days will receive a written reminder from Jeffrey & Jeffrey, along with a $5 additional surcharge. If the ticket and the surcharge aren’t paid within 30 days of when the reminder was mailed, then the ticket will be marked for “non-renewal” at the Registry of Motor Vehicles, resulting in another $10 penalty to clear the non-renewal notice.

The parking clerk’s address is: 17 State St., Shelburne Falls, MA 01370.

Wastewater treatment operator hired

BUCKLAND — The Selectboard has hired Matthew Ahearn of Leominster to become the assistant wastewater treatment plant operator, replacing Alan Nichols, who retired last month. Ahearn told the board he had received industrial wastewater training while serving in the U.S. Coast Guard and had studied marine safety and environmental protection at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy.

To be able to run the plant on his own, Ahearn must obtain wastewater treatment certification training, which is available in Springfield. Chief Operator Daniel Fleuriel said he is very comfortable with Ahearn and believes he is skilled enough to seek the Grade 4 certification required to run the plant. He said the town could get a temporary certification for Ahearn while he is in training. Also, Fleuriel said, Nichols is willing to serve as a standby operator on a temporary basis, if needed.

The Selectboard agreed to hire Ahearn, subject to a reference check and Ahearn’s passing the physical for the job. They agreed to hire him for $19.80 per hour, moving his pay up to $20.80 per hour after Ahearn secures his Grade 4 certification.

The Shelburne Falls Water Water Treatment Plant Facility serves about 2,000 people living in the Shelburne Falls village section of Buckland and Shelburne.

Free basketball program at Cowell

SHELBURNE FALLS — The Cowell Gymnasium will hold a free basketball program for elementary school children weekday afternoons, starting Monday, Dec. 4. It is a skills-and-drills, drop-in program, sponsored by the Shelburne Recreation Committee. Each week after warm-ups, the kids scrimmage against one another. Children in kindergarten through Grade 3 must by accompanied by an adult who stays throughout the program. Here is the schedule, starting Dec. 4: Monday, girls, Grades 4-6 from 5:30 to 7 p.m.; Tuesday, coed, Grades K-1 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.; Wednesday, coed, Grades 2-3 from 5:30 to 6:30; and Thursday, boys, Grades 4-6 from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

Basketball helpers needed

SHELBURNE — The Shelburne Recreation Committee’s basketball program at the Cowell Gymnasium needs volunteers if it is to be successful. The Monday-through-Thursday afternoon games, from 5:30 to 6:30 or 7 p.m., cannot be held without volunteers. Each group of children needs one to two volunteers to take primary responsibility. Requirements include leading some recommended practice drills and a willingness to have fun and encourage fair play. To volunteer, contact: cowellgymnasium@gmail.com or call 413-625-0305.