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Colrain approves all but one Town Meeting article

COLRAIN – The only Annual Town Meeting warrant article that Colrain voters did not approve was the Mohawk Trail Regional School District article to move sixth-graders out of the elementary schools and into the middle-school wing of Mohawk Regional School.

Everything else was approved, including a large-scale wind energy bylaw, a zoning change that allows homeowners to build accessory apartments, a 3 percent marijuana retail tax, and a resolution to prevent nuclear war.

Townspeople unanimously agreed to buy a new police cruiser a $39,000, using Police Stabilization money and to establish a Griswold Library Capital Stabilization Fund for future repairs to the library.

School votes

Colrain voters readily supported two out of Mohawk’s three regional agreement changes.

These were to delete Rowe’s tuition agreement from the eight-town regional agreement, and to codify Mohawk’s procedures to arrange vocational transportation for students from towns that are not members of either the Franklin County Technical School or Smith Vocational School districts.

On the change to move sixth-graders to Mohawk, the vote was 21 in favor, 45 opposed to the move. They were told the measure had already been defeated in Shelburne, Ashfield and Plainfield, but that the Mohawk School Committee wanted to know where all the towns stand on this issue.

Peace initiatives

The anti-nuclear war resolution, led by peace activist and resident Randy Kehler, asks the U.S. government to “lead a global effort to prevent nuclear war” by: renouncing the option to use nuclear weapons first; ending the president’s sole, unchecked authority to launch a nuclear attack; and to cancel a plan to upgrade the U.S. nuclear arsenal with enhanced nuclear weapons. The resolution was approved just hours after President Donald Trump announced he was withdrawing the nation from the 2015 nuclear pact with Iran. The resolution is to be sent to the president, secretary of state, and Massachusetts congressional leaders.

Budgets

The town’s operating budget for this year is $1.6 million (a 3 percent increase) and the Mohawk Trail Regional School District assessment for Colrain is $1.9 million, which is a $65,000 increase over the current budget year. School Superintendent Michael Buoniconti said the district’s overall budget increase was about 2½ percent, but the state raised Colrain’s minimum required contribution, based on a formula that factors in median incomes and property values. The assessment average for all eight member towns was a 1 percent increase, but Colrain’s assessment went up 4 percent.

Energy votes

The Large-Scale Wind Energy siting bylaw replaces a temporary moratorium and sets standards for the design, placement, construction, operation, monitoring, modification, decommissioning and removal of the structures. It applies to any wind turbine projects that are 140 feet or taller.

The town backed a plan to look into a collaboration with other towns for an aggregate electricity contract that would enable the towns and their residents to pursue cheaper and “greener” electricity by other energy providers. Residents would continue to get their bills through Eversource, and can opt out of the aggregate electricity program if they wish.

Also, voters adopted a state Stretch Energy Building Code for new construction in town, to help the town qualify for future energy grants. Building Inspector Shawn Kimberly had argued against the measure, saying it adds delays to the building process and adds to the town’s administrative costs.