Mattapoisett voters ban recreational marijuana businesses, nix dog park

May 15, 2018

Mattapoisett Town Meeting voters on Monday passed a $26.6 million town budget for fiscal year 2019, banned recreational marijuana establishments OK'd funds for the design of a new fire station, and nixed a proposal for a dog park.

Money matters

The $26.6 million budget represents a 3.5 percent increase over the current year. Landfill, water, and sewer department costs are budgeted separately. Respectively, those budgets totaled $89,400, $2.09 million, and $2.17 million.

Voters approved a total of $520,000 to be spent on preliminary costs for a new fire station. The funds will cover the costs associated with design, engineering, price-estimating, and putting the project out to bid. The town's Capital Planning Committee, which assists in budgeting and forecasting for larger projects and big-ticket costs, currently estimates that the total cost of building a new station will be $6 million.

Voters also approved $50,000 for 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.

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

Voters also OK'd spending: $27,600 for bulletproof vests for police; $41,000 to replace the police station roof; $91,000 to replace police cruisers; $100,000 for improvements to the highway barn; $60,000 for elementary school technology upgrades; $20,000 to pave the Barstow Street parking lot used by the Council on Aging.

Recreational marijuana

As a community, Mattapoisett voted against the legalization of recreational marijuana when the question appeared on the 2016 state election ballot. Therefore, the town needed only the affirmation of Town Meeting voters to permanently ban marijuana-related establishments. (Communities that voted "yes" to legalize need a Town Meeting vote and a ballot vote to OK a ban.)

Separate agenda items -- a zoning bylaw and a general bylaw -- approved by Town Meeting prohibit marijuana sales and cultivation in town, and 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."

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.

Dog park, American Legion restoration

Voters denied a request to spend $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.

Voters OK'd spending $10,000 in Community Preservation money 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.

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.

Snow-throwing fines

Voters approved a new bylaw that will impose fines for disposing snow on public streets. 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 will be enforced by the Mattapoisett Police Department.