Medical Marijuana

Wendell seeks to be medical pot-friendly town

WENDELL — While some area towns scramble to find legal ways of blocking medical marijuana dispensaries, Wendell voters will be asked to issue an open invitation to marijuana farms and dispensaries.

A resolution declaring the town “a medical marijuana-friendly community” is among the articles on the agenda for the annual town meeting on Monday.

The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. in the old Town Hall.

Town Coordinator Nancy Aldrich said a group of residents requested the article welcoming medical marijuana business at a recent Selectboard meeting, and the board agreed to put it on the town meeting warrant.

The resolution has no teeth, but acts as a show of interest.

“It’s just basically, all these other towns are putting moratoriums on it and they’re just saying ‘bring it here, we’d love to have you,’” Aldrich said.

The resolution holds that the establishment of regional medical marijuana production and dispensary facilities are a critical element in the implementation of the newly legal medical marijuana program, and that the medicalization of marijuana in other states has tended to economically favor large corporate structures rather than “smaller, local, worker-owned cooperatives” and led to the rise of energy-intensive farms.

The article goes on to state that “The Town of Wendell has a long history as a nexus of holistic health and healing, spiritual enlightenment and social awareness, and a passion for agriculture and gardening.”

On this foundation, the article proposes the town declare itself a “medical marijuana-friendly community, in support of the Massachusetts Medical Marijuana program, and encourages individuals and organizations interested in siting an organic cultivation or distribution facility ... to engage citizens and town officials in discussions around ways to retain local control, create local jobs and to ensure that zoning, planning, health and safety issues would be properly addressed.”

Also on the agenda is a general town budget of $2,034,337, up 3.8 percent from the sum budgeted for the current year. The warrant also includes corrections to the current budget, appropriating $27,851.23 to cover a deficit in the abatements account created by telecommunication company Verizon’s court victory in a suit over taxes, and $15,979.81 to fill a shortfall in the snow and ice removal budget.

A nonbinding resolution would put to a vote the question of whether moving the annual town meeting to a weekend would be more convenient and encourage attendance, proposing the 2014 meeting be held on a Saturday at 10 a.m.

An amendment to the cost-sharing agreement with New Salem for the Swift River School would change the formula for calculating each town’s share to base the figure on a five-year average of the student population breakdown, rather than one year.

New Salem voters have already approved the change.

Two proposed changes to the zoning bylaws would loosen the restrictions on construction of secondary dwellings on existing building lots.

The first would remove the requirement that the primary dwelling be in existence for 10 years in order to add a secondary dwelling and the second would remove language capping the number of residents in a secondary dwelling at two.

∎ $70,000 from Stabilization for an additional payment on the Town Building Projects Construction loan from the Department of Agriculture.

∎ $15,000 for the Reserve Fund

∎ $20,000 for the Capital Stabilization Fund.

∎ $15,000 for the Unemployment Compensation Fund.

∎ $15,000 for the Pension Reserve Fund.

∎ $15,000 for the town treasurer for tax title expense.

∎ $13,000 to fund a preliminary study to explore options for elementary school education with the current member towns of Erving School Union 28.

∎ $19,600 in three articles for different aspects of Town Hall kitchen remodeling.

∎ $6,000 to pay for costs associated with the installation of high speed Internet to town buildings, including the Library, Senior Center, Police Station, Highway Garage, Town Hall and Town Office Building.

∎ Establish 35 days before the date of the meeting as a deadline for submission of all articles for town meetings.

∎ $199,867 from surplus to the Stabilization Account.

∎ A resolution calling on Baystate Health System to “commit all necessary resources to ensure the provision of all needed services and to commit to the long-term viability of a full-service community hospital at Baystate Franklin Medical Center which will meet the health care needs of the residents of Franklin County,” a petitioned article appearing at many town meetings.

∎ Two zoning bylaw changes establishing a floodplain overlay district and setting definitions related to that district.

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