Town Meeting members to tackle marijuana, open space, and an upgraded stadium

Oct 10, 2018

Town Meeting members will be asked to weigh in on recreational marijuana, more green space in town, and a renovation of Memorial Stadium at the October 16 Fall Town Meeting.

The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at Dartmouth High School, 555 Bakerville Rd. Town Meeting members, elected by voters of each of Dartmouth’s nine precincts, are eligible to vote on items. The meeting is also open to the public to observe.

The agenda includes 13 article items and a $4.7 million capital plan. Here is a preview of some of the main items on the agenda.

Zoning: Recreational marijuana

The Planning Board is proposing to limit the sale of recreational marijuana to an area along Faunce Corner Road and the northernmost region of Dartmouth, including the New Bedford Business Park and other properties in the industrial zone.

The bylaw would limit the number of recreational marijuana facilities to three, and set distance restrictions from areas where children gather, other facilities, and homes.

If the bylaw is not passed, these businesses could open in any business district, because the Planning Board’s 18-month moratorium, passed after the legalization of recreational marijuana, will expire soon.

Zoning: Dartmouth Place rezoning

The owners of Dartmouth Place at 49 State Road have filed a citizen’s petition to bring the whole property into the office zoning district, which would allow them to build a new parking lot.

Community Preservation: Mendes-Monteiro House

The Town Meeting warrant includes two community preservation projects, which are funded through a 1.5 percent surcharge on property taxes and may only be used for affordable housing, open space, historical preservation, and outdoor recreation.

With a new understanding of aging, the Dartmouth Housing Authority and Partners in Housing, a nonprofit organization, are proposing to build a new senior housing project in Dartmouth.

The Mendes-Monteiro House would provide eight units of affordable housing for seniors who receive services from the Department of Mental Health.

The housing project would be built at 2 Anderson Way on property owned by the Housing Authority.

The request is for $500,000. Remaining construction costs would be covered by grants.

“It’s peace of mind for family members to know their loved ones have a safe and sanitary place to live,” said Housing Authority Executive Director Connie Desbiens.

Community Preservation: High Hill Greenway Link

The Community Preservation Committee is also asking for Town Meeting approval to spend $400,000 to purchase a 57.8-acre piece of land at 53 High Hill Road.

The land connects several other conserved spaces, including the Acushnet Cedar Swamp and the Southeastern Massachusetts Bioreserve, and would create a corridor of open space nearly four miles long. The goal is to create a trail system on the property.

“It has the preexisting trail system within it that is overgrown, but with a little effort, the plan is to open it to the public for passive recreation purposes,” said Director of Budget and Finance Greg Barnes. “The public will be able to go in there and go for a walk.”

Barnes said that the land has many nice features, including beech trees, tall trees, and a stream.

The town has applied for a grant from the state that could cover $232,000 of the cost, although the grant is competitive.

A separate article on the Town Meeting agenda, article 4, acknowledges the grant request.

Capital Plan: Memorial Stadium

The town’s capital plan includes big ticket items. Many projects are entirely funded by surplus revenue and funds generated by the town department undertaking the project.

The School Department is seeking $1.1 million to proceed with the first phase of a renovation of Memorial Stadium. Click here for more information. 

Capital Plan: DPW

The Department of Public Works is seeking $539,000 to repair side streets, starting with Richard, Norwell, Osborne, and Frank Streets in Bliss Corner — a neighborhood with some of the oldest roads in town.

“Those are the roads that are in the most disrepair in the system,” said David Hickox, the Director of Public Works.

The department is also upping its road maintenance funding request to $1 million and advancing plans for the third phase of reconstruction on Faunce Corner Rd. from the train tracks to Old Fall River Rd.

The department is also requesting an additional $250,000 to address the presence of trihalomethane (TTHM) in town drinking water. Town Meeting previously approved the $1.5 million project, but project costs could be higher than estimated.  

In 2016, the town was notified that the levels of TTHM, a chlorine byproduct, was too high in the drinking water. If approved, the DPW project would sanitize water with chloramine and change how water is stored.

Capital Plan: Town government

Barnes said the $190,000 request for town government technology upgrades will be used to improve cameras and software at town hall and make it easier to digitize documents.

Capital Plan: Library funding

The capital plan includes a request for $700,000 for the new North Dartmouth Library on Cross Rd. This funding will decrease the amount of money the town needs to borrow, according to Barnes.

Construction on the $10.5 million, 15,800 square-foot library began in July.

Capital Plan: Police

The Dartmouth Police Department is requesting $72,840 of surplus revenue to replace police cruisers and $74,394 to replace two administrative vehicles. Chief Brian Levesque said these funds, along with those approved at the Spring Town Meeting, would allow the department to purchase four new cruisers each year to ensure the department is using safe, efficient vehicles with low maintenance costs.

Capital Plan: Community television

Dartmouth Community Television is requesting $35,000 to continue building repairs and $30,000 for a DCTV studio set. The funds would come from DCTV’s self-sustaining enterprise fund.

“It’s a higher-end set that could be used for multiple shows,” said Dr. Cynthia Marland, the Director of Media at DCTV. “We’re excited to give each set its own look.”

Repairs would make the 247 Russells Mills Road building more secure and provide handicap accessibility.

Town Clerk fees

Town Clerk Lynn Medeiros is proposing increases to some of her office’s fees, and incorporating those fees into the town bylaws, as required by state law.

Solar energy

A citizen’s petition to allow cranberry farmers to install solar panels above their bogs was undermined by unclear regulatory language and the revelation that the farmer planned to sell his bogs to a solar company, and was not recommended by the Select or Planning Boards.