Pubdate: Mon, 03 Jun 2013
Source: Taunton Daily Gazette (MA)
Copyright: 2013 Taunton Daily Gazette
Author: Jeffrey D. Wagner


FREETOWN - By a two-thirds majority vote, Town Meeting approved 
allowing a registered marijuana dispensary and treatment center 
within the town's lone Industrial 2 area.

A medical marijuana dispensary or treatment center could now be built 
on Campanelli Drive near Ridge Hill Road. Planning Board Vice 
Chairman Keven Desmarais stuck to the theory long held by the 
Planning Board -- it is in an area that protects the town, and is 
near the highway, with access to a nearby water and sewer line.

In a PowerPoint presentation, Desmarais noted that 65 percent of town 
voters approved allowing registered medical marijuana dispensaries in 
the state, while 63 percent of voters in the state also favored it. 
He said that the state will allow 35 and up to five in one county.

"Our job is to plan appropriately," he said, emphasizing that the 
Planning Board sought the most ideal location if such a facility were to come.

"We don't have a choice in this folks. This is coming to the area," 
Desmarais said.

Comparing it to adult entertainment, which was approved in town in 
2001, Desmarais told voters that the Planning Board does not 
necessarily personally support medical marijuana, but it cannot "zone 
such a facility out of town."

Currently, the other uses in Industrial 2 include motor vehicle sales 
and repair, scrap and junk yards, warehouses, research laboratories, 
manufacturing plants, commercial towers and antennas. By special 
permit, adult entertainment is also allowed in that district.

Many residents asked questions about it on Monday, some appearing 
surprised that a marijuana center could cultivate marijuana at the same site.

Resident Donna Motta said Monday's approval does not necessarily mean 
a dispensary or treatment center will be moving into town. She called 
it a prepatory move.

To the sound of applause at the annual Town Meeting, Selectmen 
Chairman Paul Sadeck announced that the town would pass a budget of 
more than $20 million for fiscal 2014 yet it would not raise taxes.

"We want to give the taxpayers -- the struggling parents, ... people 
on fixed incomes ... the opportunity to have a one-year respite from 
the normal 2=-percent increase," Sadeck said. He added that the town 
was able to balance the budget after setting aside more than $10 
million for education, including vocational education funds, and yet 
is able to place more than $580,000 in a stabilization account.

Along with approving the budget and a marijuana dispensary, Town 
Meeting also honored a pair of longtime employees. Town Meeting gave 
a citation to Treasurer-Tax Collector Anita Howland, who will be 
retiring after 34 years of service.

It also gave a citation to Communications Department supervisor 
Brenda Christiansen, also a police and fire signal operator, who will 
be retiring after 33 years of service.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom