Rochester to consider housing development, marijuana bylaw at Town Meeting

May 12, 2019

ROCHESTER — Town voters will consider creating a new overlay district in town for a housing development, a renovation request for the high school athletic and drama facilities, and a new marijuana bylaw as part of Town Meeting on May 20.

One of the most-discussed articles on the warrant is on the the Cranberry Highway Smart Growth Overlay District for a proposed 208 unit housing development known as Rochester Crossroads.The overlay district would go over the current commercial zoning for the site at the intersection of routes 58 and 28. 

The development would help the town meet and exceed its affordable housing requirement and would also bring education payments for an estimated 45 to 55 new students from the state if the costs of education exceeded the norm for that type of development.

Another of the most controversial projects would allow Old Rochester Regional High School to borrow $2,000,000 to fix broken auditorium lights, the school’s track, and to replace the main field with a turf field.

The plan would cost Rochester residents $34.39 for the first year, and prices could remain at that rate or decrease based on financing decisions, an advocacy group for the project says.

Rochester voters will consider appropriating $98,703 to the Capital Improvement Fund for Fire Department extrication tools, a standby generator for fire and highway department, curriculum units for Rochester Memorial School, and funds to buy public use computers at the library.

Voters will also decide whether to opt into a community energy aggregation plan and purchase energy in a group with other municipalities for a lower, fixed rate. Residents could opt out of the plan and if they did not Eversource would continue to distribute their electricity. The only thing that would change on a bill would be the name of the supplier. 

Rochester is also looking  to institute a new marijuana bylaw which would allow marijuana cultivators in agricultural or residential lots, product manufacturers independent testing laboratories, or other licensed recreational facilities in the industrial zone, and any marijuana retailers only in the general commercial district.

The bylaw also rules that products or paraphernalia cannot be visible and abutters cannot smell odors from the facility, and that any marijuana businesses must have a security permit from the Police Chief and Fire Chief.

Rochester will also consider whether to have an appointed or elected Town Clerk as the current clerk looks to retire.

The town will vote on whether to appropriate $15,000 toward a town liability of $11,844,025 in Other Post Employment Benefits.

Several articles have to do with various stabilization funds. One would allow $50,000 for road improvements $100,000 for the school stabilization fund and $100,000 to the general stabilization fund.

One article also mentions $20,000 “to support the Old Rochester Athletic Booster Club Inc. in their services to Old Rochester Regional High School,” without further details on the intent.