Mattapoisett voters will weigh in on marijuana ban, tax increase for road improvements

May 9, 2018

Voters at Mattapoisett's Town Meeting on May 14 will weigh in on a marijuana ban, and fines for throwing snow in the streets, consider a tax increase for road improvements, and decide whether to fund a dog park and an analysis of the town's American Legion building.

Town Meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. at Old Rochester Regional High School. All registered Mattapoisett voters may participate.


Marijuana ban

The issue of marijuana sales has preoccupied Town of Mattapoisett employees and residents over the past year. While the state legalized marijuana in 2016, Mattapoisett voted against legalization as a community.

Separate agenda items -- a zoning bylaw and a general bylaw -- if approved, would completely prohibit marijuana sales and cultivation in town, and would ban all non-medical marijuana establishments, "including marijuana cultivators, independent testing laboratories, marijuana product manufacturers, marijuana retailers or any type of licensed marijuana-related businesses."

Because Mattapoisett voted "no" on the 2016 state ballot question, the town needs only approval at Town Meeting to permanently ban marijuana-related establishments. Towns that voted "yes," such as Marion and Rochester, would require approval from both voters at Town Meeting and via a ballot question to achieve the same ban.

A moratorium on medical and recreational marijuana establishments is active in Mattapoisett already; an agenda item passed at the town's Special Town Meeting in February banned applications to found either establishment in town through December 3.


Snow-throwing fines

The town is seeking approval from voters to add a new bylaw that would impose fines for disposing of snow on public streets.

If approved, anyone found to "throw, shovel, cast, plow, place, dump or otherwise deposit snow on a public way" will be charged $100 per offense.

The bylaw would be enforced by the Mattapoisett Police Department.


Road improvement funding

Voters will be asked to approve $50,000 in design costs to improve Main, Water, and Beacon streets and Marion Road, as well as a $250,000 Proposition 2½ debt exclusion to complete the work.

The $50,000 will pay for the design and engineering plans for the streets, as well as for permitting expenses. A separate agenda item asks voters to approve the $250,000 debt exclusion to fund the project.

A debt exclusion, which would also need to be approved by voters via a ballot question at the next town election, would temporarily raise property taxes until the project is funded.


American Legion, dog park funds

The Community Preservation Committee will ask Mattapoisett voters to approve a $10,000 transfer from Community Preservation Act funds to analyze the cost of a full restoration of the current American Legion Florence Eastman Post 280 building, located on Depot Street.

The ultimate intent of the restoration would be to transfer the building to the Town of Mattapoisett from the American Legion, for future community purposes. When asked exactly what the intended future use of the building might be, Town Administrator Mike Gagne said it was too early to tell.

Voters will also be asked to spent $75,000 in Community Preservation funds to construct a dog park near the current police station.

The dog park project is spearheaded by Mattapoisett resident Freemin Bauer, who has been raising funds for the effort. Bauer has spoken with Police Chief Mary Lyons, who said that the dog park would not affect the station.

Community Preservation Act funding is generated by a property tax surcharge. It can only be used on open space, recreation, affordable housing, or historic preservation projects.