By Chelsea Feinstein | Lowell Sun | 11/19/2013 | www.lowellsun.com
TOWNSEND – Special Town Meeting took no action Tuesday on an article to approve an $11.3 million fire station headquarters, temporarily stalling the project.
In a meeting before Special Town Meeting, selectmen determined the article could not legally go before voters as it had not been placed on the town’s capital plan.
The Capital Planning Committee had voted at a previous meeting to put $1.2 million in land acquisition, design and site surveying costs on the capital plan, rather than the entire $11.3 million project, citing a lack of information about the costs.
Selectman Bob Plamondon likened approving only one phase of the project to “buying half a horse.”
“What Capital Planning has done has sabotaged this plan, and I think there are dire consequences to the town if it’s not approved,” Plamondon said.
Officials discussed holding an additional Special Town Meeting to address the fire-station issue.
“Isn’t that the epitome of waste to have another Special Town Meeting to talk about what we could talk about tonight?” Plamondon asked.
Fire Chief Donald Klein said that approving the project in multiple phases would delay it by at least six months and drive the cost up.
“All you’ve done is increase the likelihood that you’re going to hit that $11.3 million mark or even higher,” Klein said.
Capital Planning Committee member Carolyn Smart called the addition of a first phase to the capital plan an attempt at compromise, and rebutted comments from Selectman Sue Lisio that the committee was holding the project hostage.
“I don’t think it’s irresponsible for us to ask the questions or feel differently than you do,” Smart said.
Klein said he was unprepared to have any vote on the project, as he had been told earlier in the day that it wouldn’t be on the warrant, so the town did not vote on the $1.2 million in phase one costs at Special Town Meeting.
Voters unanimously approved a bylaw that would regulate wind energy use in town, despite questions on the specific wording of the 11-page bylaw.
“This isn’t intended to invite every wind turbine manufacturer in the world to come to Townsend. This is for our protection,” said Jeffrey Peduzzi, chair of the Planning Board. “We’re putting this in place because right now there is nothing.”
A proposal for a moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries and treatment centers passed with only a few dissenting votes.
Resident Doug Swanson questioned the trend of towns acting against a provision that state voters had already approved.
“I am somewhat disturbed by the pattern across the entire state of village governments taking action against something that the majority of residents of this state have approved,” Swanson said.
Peduzzi said the moratorium would allow the Planning Board the opportunity to better plan for such development.
Voters also approved an article to allow licensed restaurants to serve alcohol on premises between 10 a.m. and noon on Sundays, the last Monday in May and Christmas Day by a vote of 72-24 in the closest vote of the night.
Although one resident suggested removing Christmas Day from the article, Town Counsel said that the statute could only be voted on in its original form.
Two articles allowing for the enforcement of the town’s mandatory recycling program also passed.
The enforcing officer will be the municipal recycling enforcement coordinator, a position that is being funded for 18 months through a state grant, Board of Health Chairman Christopher Genoter said.
“The intent is not to create a permanent position for the recycling coordinator,” Genoter said.
Voters also approved a series of finance articles, including a transfer of $10,000 to supplement veterans benefits, a transfer of $9,806 to replace the phone system in the Police Department and an approval of collective bargaining agreements with the police, fire, telecommunications, highway and water unions.
No articles were rejected.
URL to article: https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2013/11/19/townsend-voters-approve-marijuana-moratorium-take-no-action-on-fire-station/