Rochester passes full warrant at Special Town Meeting

Oct 18, 2021

ROCHESTER — A new regional agreement for OR schools, a petition for an extra liquor license, and solar canopies over the parking lot of Rochester Memorial School highlighted an evening of civic involvement on Monday, Oct. 18 as Rochester residents gathered for Special Town Meeting.

Though the electorate was slow to arrive — the start of the meeting was delayed by about 20 minutes to allow a quorum of at least 50 voters to get there — the meeting was otherwise successful as all 13 articles on the warrant were accepted by the voters.

Most of the articles were approved without question or comment from the voters, however, certain items, such as an agreement that would see solar canopies built above the RMS parking lot, garnered more attention.

One abutter of the RMS parking lot worried that the canopy would be visible from her property and sought assurances that planning for the project would be overseen by the town in much the same way that other solar projects would need to be.

Town officials acknowledged that while the canopy project would go through a slightly different approval process than other such solar farms, it would still have to go in front of the planning board and would need to fulfill a similar list of requirements like screening, drainage, and accessibility to emergency vehicles.

Town officials also fielded questions on the issue of whether to petition the state for another liquor license for the town to be used for a carryout store at the Cranberry Highway Smart Growth Overlay District which is still in development.

Voters wanted to know why the license was being restricted to the specific district and why it had to be a carryout location, rather than a bar or restaurant.

Rochester Town Counsel Blair Bailey replied that the location had been chosen to space it out from the town’s other three carryout stores and that there was no need to ask the state for another bar or restaurant liquor license as the town already has more of those licenses to spare.

Voters also approved: a shortened window for dog licensing, which would allow the town to charge late fees for dog licenses filed after March 31; changing the name of the “Board of Selectmen” to the “Select Board;” and an updated ORR schools agreement and creation of a school stabilization fund for routine maintenance.

In addition, a town stabilization fund and road stabilization fund were created for the town. $10,000 was appropriated for a town administrator search firm. $13,000 was appropriated for equipment and services at the Assessor’s Office. And, $10,000 was appropriated to supplement a previous purchase of a utility truck.

A full list of Town Meeting warrant articles is available here.