AdamsATM62121

Adams town meeting moderator Myra Wilk and other town officials conduct the annual town meeting Monday night at Bowe Field.

ADAMS — An item that generated a modicum of debate at annual town meeting on Monday, the addition of marijuana cultivation to allowable uses in the Industrial Park zone, passed by a vote of 92 to 9.

The outdoor evening meeting was conducted at Bowe Field due to the pandemic. It was 90 degrees when the meeting started under the park pavilion, with some seated under a large tent.

All of the warrant articles passed by wide margins. The overall proposed fiscal 2022 budget of $16,228,113, a 0.74 percent decrease from the current year, was passed, including the $6,525,738 operating budget for the school district.

After a town meeting delegate asked why marijuana cultivation was a good idea, Town Administrator Jay Green noted that there have been “six inquiries from cannabis companies interested” in locating a cultivation operation in one of several vacant structures in the industrial park zone.

He said this would be a good opportunity to increase the tax base to ensure the continued operation of town services and an opportunity to rely less on residential property taxes.

Select Board member Joe Nowak agreed, saying it was an opportunity to create a “new revenue stream for the town.”

When the Operating Omnibus budget article came up, one woman wondered why the town keeps spending money on the Memorial School, proposed at $57,300 for fiscal 2022 (a $17,000 increase).

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Select Board Chairman John Duval explained that during the coming year, the Adams Council on Aging will be moving into the building, that youth groups will start using the gymnasium, and it’s also where town elections will take place. Later on, the auditorium is going to be used for town meeting and other community uses. He noted that the roof and HVAC system have been replaced, work that had to be completed before the building could be put back into operation.

The classroom wing has generated some interest as a potential residential development, Duval added.

The proposed budget eliminated the Director of Public Works position, which was already vacant. Green explained that the DPW foreman is supervising the operation, and that the department’s mission has evolved. Soon, Green will be appointed interim DPW director to satisfy a town bylaw that requires the position to exist.

Voters also passed proposals to pay $603,761 for debt service, $55,000 to replace a police cruiser, and $89,000 to be spent on economic development.

The town was authorized to borrow $5 million in a low-interest, partially forgivable loan from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection to complete capital improvements to the Adams Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Voters also allowed $1.9 million for the Adams Police Department operations, $241,000 for the Adams Council on Aging, and $10,000 to go towards maintenance of the Adams Free Library building.

Scott Stafford can be reached at sstafford@berkshireeagle.com or at 413-629-4517.