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Pot law, land donation top Erving agenda

Special town meeting at 7 p.m. on Monday

ERVING — A medical marijuana dispensary moratorium at the request of the Planning Board and a land donation top the short list of non-monetary items for consideration at a special town meeting scheduled for Monday.

The first article on the agenda would accept the donation of a strip of riverfront land from the owner of the Erving Paper Mill, land adjacent to the former Usher Plant property.

Erving owns the former Usher land on Arch Street through tax-taking. Plans for the property are not decided, but have included recreation space, river access, shopping, restaurant or senior housing development.

Town Administrator Thomas Sharp said the Usher Plant Reuse Committee had been eyeing the unused land across Arch Street for some time to supplement the Usher land and approached Erving Industries CEO Morris Housen.

Sharp said the land, in eight lots along the Miller River, totals about 10 acres and the only cost to the town will be in lost property tax revenue.

The move requires a two-thirds vote.

Meanwhile, plans for the Usher land are continuing on schedule, Sharp said, with an environmental consultant recently hired to assess the property.

Also on the agenda is a one-year moratorium on the development of medical marijuana dispensaries in town.

The moratorium would be in effect through Oct. 31, 2014. “The regulation of medical marijuana raises novel and complex legal, planning and public safety issues and the town needs time to study and consider the regulation of Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers and Address such novel and complex issues,” reads the bylaw, in part.

Whately and Bernardston have adopted similar moratoriums and they have been discussed in others. Deerfield has already established zoning and Montague has a zoning bylaw ready for voters at its next special town meeting.

The largest appropriation on the agenda, $110,594, will go to the Gill-Montague Regional School District for tuition. Sharp said this year’s annual tuition appropriation was based on last year’s figure with the understanding that the School Committee would return to a fall meeting for additional funds.

Two small spending decisions with potentially deep impacts would create an administrative position for the Recreation Commission and assist in the re-opening of the town’s museum of local history.

The Recreation Commission has requested $5,000 to pay a part-time administrative clerk. Sharp said the clerk would be able to accomplish some of the work a volunteer board generally composed of parents with full time jobs cannot, and provide continuity for the recreation programs as elected officials come and go.

The second item would establish a $3,000 expense account for the Historical Commission as the group works to re-open the Pearl B. Care Historical Building. The group recently opened the building’s doors to the public with an open house, the first in years. Sharp said the selectmen and Finance Committee recognized the commission needs an expense line for mops and buckets and other miscellaneous expenses of unpacking the old building.

Also among the items on the agenda for the meeting at 7 p.m. in the Town Hall, 12 East Main St.:

■ $40,000 to purchase and equip a police cruiser, scheduled for replacement next year but with maintenance costs adding up, Sharp said.

■ $3,000 to increase the current year budget line for information technology wages or in-house training.

■ Transfer $151,515 from the Usher Plant Demolition continuing appropriation to close out the Brownfields Cleanup revolving loan authorized by Erving voters in 2011.

■ Modify the cemetery regulations to specify dates through which the cemetery is open for burials and extending the open days to include Fridays.

■ Transfer $20,000 from the sewer main inspection and repair appropriation to purchase two new pumps for the Route 2 station, replacing two 30- to 35-year-old pumps, Sharp said, one of which is broken.

■ Amendments to the Zoning Bylaws to reduce the property line setback requirements in the rural residential district.

You can reach Chris Curtis at:
ccurtis@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 257

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