2018 Williamstown Town Meeting preview

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WILLIAMSTOWN — With the Planning Board having pulled the hot button proposal of remapping the town's zoning districts last month, Williamstown's annual town meeting will be less exciting than initially expected. At the March 12 Select Board meeting, the Planning Board presented a proposal for a new zoning map, which would create four additional districts out of the current "General Residence" district. That proposal was met with pushback from some residents who feel that the suggested zones were inequitable and divisive so the board began to scale back the proposal. In April, they decided to not move forward with it at this year's town meeting.

This year's 32-article warrant includes an effort to reconstruct a building to use as a police station, imposing a local sales tax on marijuana, and provide funding to the Sand Springs Recreation Center.

When: 7 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Williamstown Elementary School, 115 Church St.

Budget

Fiscal 2019: $21.1 million Decrease: 2.4 percent *taxes are expected to increase 1.27 percent

Expenses:

$12.5 million: Education expenses including Williamstown Elementary School, Mount Greylock Regional School District and McCann Technical School:

$77,000: Youth Center

$19,000: Sand Springs Recreational Center:

The Top Issues

Police Station

Residents will vote on whether to appropriate $5 million to reconstruct a building at 825 Simonds Road to use as a new police station. The need for new space has been an issue for the department since the early 2000s.

The town has already purchased the former Turner House, which voters approved at special town meeting in November, with the purpose of turning it into a police station. The Zoning Board of Appeals has already granted a permit for the project.

Marijuana Tax

Residents have the opportunity to impose a 3 percent local tax on all marijuana and marijuana products sold in Williamstown. Both the Select Board and Finance Committee have recommended the 3 percent tax, which is the maximum local option tax allowable on marijuana sales.

Retail and medical marijuana shop, Silver Therapeutics, is seeking to license a medical marijuana dispensary and a retail shop proposed for Colonial Plaza on Main Street.

The state's Cannabis Control Commission is targeting July for the issuing of retail marijuana sales licenses and the shop's retail agreement with the town already includes a provision for the local option tax of 3 percent of gross sales.

Sand Springs Recreational Center

The non-profit that operates the historic Sand Springs pool has approached the town seeking $19,000 to support about 15 percent of its operating budget, arguing that they provide a range of services for a low-to-moderate cost and are a community benefit.

The town doesn't have an existing practice of subsidizing community non-profits so if the town does vote to approve the request, it will raise the question of what to do if other non-profits request town funding in the future, Town Manager Jason Hoch said.

The Finance Committee voted two in favor, four opposed and two abstaining on this article. The Select Board unanimously recommends the adoption of this article.


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