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Conway to take up treatment plant study

CONWAY — At this year’s annual town meeting, townspeople will be asked to fund a feasibility study for creating a municipal wastewater treatment system — a major step forward in addressing some of the town’s longtime infrastructure needs.

Townspeople will be asked to provide $12,000 for the study that would evaluate what sites in town may be suitable for a treatment plant and come up with suggestions for how the town could create such a facility for the downtown area.

The town meeting is on Monday at 7:30 p.m. in the Conway Grammar School.

Townspeople will be asked to support a $4,915,985 budget for next year. Spending would increase by $140,242 over the current year.

The request for the feasibility study was brought forth by the Planning Board and recommended by the Board of Selectmen.

In the early 1970s, the town completed a conceptual study to see whether a wastewater treatment plant would be feasible for the downtown, but no further action was taken.

This year, the Planning Board took up exploring how to grow the economy of the downtown. The board proposed changes to the zoning bylaws that would create a new village district. Those proposals, however, did not make it to the final drawing board as townspeople questioned how the town could create a village district without a waste water treatment facility. There is no open land available for any new homeowners or businesses to put a septic system in, said Planning Board member David Chichester.

“People suggested we couldn’t create a village center because we couldn’t handle the septic. We decided to figure at how to create that facility so those expansions could occur,” said Chichester.

While a new village district won’t be taken up this year, the Planning Board is asking townspeople to consider other zoning changes.

Townspeople will be asked to support a revision in the zoning involving cottage industries and medical marijuana dispensaries in town.

Under the new proposal, medical marijuana cultivation and processing would be allowed by special permit by the Planning Board in the rural residential/agricultural district and the light industrial district.

Medical marijuana facilities can be located anywhere in town except where they conflict with the state rule banning them from within 500 feet of a school or where they alter the character of the neighborhood, which would be determined by the town planners.

The town has not received any proposals for medical marijuana dispensaries yet, but Franklin County is still open for applicants to apply. In January, the state Department of Public Health announced 20 provisional licenses for applicants, but it did not award any to Franklin County. Instead, eight applicants were invited to update their applications for four counties that did not get a license, including Franklin County. The state is also in the process of reviewing the chosen applicants again after several complaints of misrepresentation and conflicts of interest were raised in the eastern part of the state.

Under the new zoning, cottage industries with up to 6,000 square feet of enclosed floor area are allowed by right with a site plan review. Cottage industries between 6,000 square feet and 10,000 square feet may be allowed with a special permit by the Planning Board.

Home-based businesses would be allowed as long as the business doesn’t take up more than half of the home.

In the past, cottage industries and home-based businesses were allowed anywhere in town as long as they did not have more than 15 employees and 50 customers a day.

The Planning Board’s proposals are among many bylaw changes townspeople will be asked to adopt.

The town would also be asked to create a non-criminal disposition for people who violate town bylaws.

The proposal would subject any person who violates any bylaw to a specific penalty. The non-criminal fine for each violation, if not specified, would be $50 for the first violation, $100 for the second violation, and $150 for the third and subsequent violations.

The proposal would effectively create a ticket system for violators and allow the Board of Health, Conservation Commission, building inspector and other boards the selectmen designate to issue fines.

The proposed bylaw was submitted by the town administrator and supported by the selectmen.

It comes as the Board of Health has repeatedly pushed over the course of the year for the owner of 1615 Main Poland Road, Gene Malloy, to clean up his property and repair his septic system. The attempts have been to no avail and the board has recently served Malloy with a condemnation order.

Another proposed bylaw, submitted by the Highway Superintendent Ron Sweet, would make it unlawful to deposit snow on any town roadway.

An additional proposed bylaw would allow the town to implement a townwide winter parking ban from Nov. 1 of each year through April 1 of the succeeding year between midnight and 7 a.m. The fine for the violations of both these proposals would be $50 for the first violation, $100 for the second and $150 for the third and subsequent violations. The enforcing agent would be the police department.

Townspeople will also be asked to approve:

$125,000 to support the capital stabilization fund for future capital projects.

$16,900 for maintenance and repair work on the Conway Grammar School building.

$50,000 to support the school stabilization fund for future maintenance and repair work.

$20,000 for the post-employment benefits liability trust fund.

$28,667 for the ambulance.

$25,000 for a used plow truck.

$14,930 to pay for a prior year fire department grant deficit.

$10,000 for the 250th Anniversary Planning Committee.

$7,500 for annual planning for revaluation as requested by the Board of Assessors.

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