Select Board screen grab

Pictured clockwise from top left are Williamstown Town Manager Jason Hoch and Select Board members Hugh Daley, Jane Patton, Jeffrey Thomas, Anne O’Connor and Andrew Hogeland.

WILLIAMSTOWN — While reviewing proposed articles for the town meeting warrant, the Select Board declined, in a 4-1 vote, to endorse a proposal from the Planning Board to allow outdoor cultivation of marijuana for recreational use in South Williamstown.

No regulations in town yet govern outdoor cultivation of marijuana. The proposal would allow cultivation with certain restrictions.

Board member Jeffrey Thomas voted against the Planning Board’s proposal because he felt it was too restrictive. Members Jane Patton, Hugh Daley and Andrew Hogeland voted against it, largely because it allowed marijuana cultivation too close to Mount Greylock Regional Middle/High School.

Anne O’Connor voted in favor of it because it would have allowed local farmers another option for making their land more productive.

“It seems like this is trying to solve a problem that doesn’t exist,” Patton said. And I just can’t get past the issue of proximity to the high school.”

The issue will be decided by voters.

In other business, the Select Board declined a proposal to appropriate $19,000 to allow for annual stipends to Select Board members.

Members felt that it was more appropriate to get town meeting to authorize a study on the matter, with the results of the study to be reported back to town meeting next year.

Hogeland felt that he didn’t have enough information on the proposal and wanted more time to look at the idea and evaluate how residents feel about it.

“I don’t think it’s right for me to have this in the warrant when it’s not fully thought out,” he said.

The idea to seek voter authorization to study the plan was suggested by Daley.

“I personally feel a little awkward,” he said. “This was a public service when I took it on. If our bosses close down the idea of a study, then they’re not OK with it and we have our answer.”

Meanwhile, the search for a permanent town manager is starting to take shape as the town moves closer to beginning that process by appointing an advisory board from among interested residents. During Monday night’s remote meeting, board members reviewed the parameters and tentative schedule for the search.

The town has hired GovHR USA to conduct the nationwide search to replace departing Town Manager Jason Hoch. An interim town manager, Charles Blanchard, has started working to handle day-to-day operations until a permanent manager is hired.

The 12-member advisory committee will identify candidates and recommend them to the Select Board for final selection. Committee members will be chosen from among interested town residents by Patton and Daley.

Patton said the appointment will be made by early next week. The advisory committee will operate under Massachusetts Open Meeting Law requirements.

Some meetings will be in executive session in certain instances, such as in discussing individual candidates, which is compliant with the meeting laws. Candidate interviews will be accessible to the public via Zoom and Willinet.

The tentative schedule for the search shows that the next step, after appointing the committee, is to start communicating with the search consultants about what the community wants in the next manager and to set candidate criteria.

A survey of community members, if authorized, would be launched in early May. The committee will decide how to compose outreach to candidates, such as advertising and social media efforts.

Advertising and outreach by the consultancy is projected to begin in the second week of May. A recruitment profile then would be composed and launched on the consultant’s website and sent to potential candidates.

The search committee would start screening applicants for the interview stage in mid-July, with interviews beginning in late July.

During the first week of August, a candidate forum might be held. Final interviews are expected in mid-August, with a new town manager starting work in mid-September.

Chief search

O’Connor, the liaison for the search committee for an interim police chief, said there will be a fifth candidate interviewed this week, with a potential decision next week.

The police chief and the town manager both resigned as the result of allegations in a lawsuit alleging racial and sexual harassment in the Police Department.

Scott Stafford can be reached at sstafford@berkshireeagle.com

or at 413-629-4517.