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Two Bylaws, Including Marijuana Moratorium, on Town Meeting Warrant

During an October 17 meeting, the Board of Selectmen reviewed a near finalized version of the November 21 Special Town Meeting warrant. Among the 14 articles on the warrant are two bylaw changes concerning a marijuana moratorium as well as the new Fire Chief's duties and authority.

Article 8 on the warrant is asking voters to amend the town's zoning bylaws by adding a new section titled Marijuana Establishments that would add a temporary moratorium meant to allow town officials time to weigh their options when it comes to allowing or prohibiting the sale and growth of marijuana in town.

During the November 2016 election, Massachusetts voters supported the cultivation and sale of recreational marijuana. Since then, Governor Baker signed into law a modified marijuana bill increasing the tax on the drug and discussing how communities can ban retail marijuana shops. The moratorium, if approved, aims to give town officials enough time to engage in a plan to address zoning issues and the effects of having such marijuana shops in Mendon. According to the warrant, the temporary moratorium would be in effect through December 2018 or six months from the adoption of regulations to implement the Act by the Cannabis Control Commission, whichever is later.

The following article, Article 9, concerns a bylaw amendment regarding the Fire Chief's duties and authority. The town is currently looking to hire a new chief after Public Safety Director Ernie Horn resigned last year.

During the May Annual Town Meeting, residents supported an article that rescinded the town's Strong Fire Chief statute and accepted the Weak Fire Chief's statute. The purpose of Article 9 "Is to create consistency between the Strong Police Chief and the now Weak Fire Chief statute," explained Selectman Chair Chris Burke." Basically, this article makes the positions equal."

The first section of the amendment states the Fire Department will be established under the direction of the Board of Selectmen who will appoint the Chief and other officers and firemen as the Board deems necessary.

The following section discusses the Fire Chief's tenure noting the appointment shall be made annually or for a term not to exceed three years, to be determined by the Selectmen. Any member of the Fire Department, including the Chief, can be removed, suspended, or disciplined by the Selectmen as well. The warrant also goes on to say the Fire Chief is in immediate control of all town property utilized by the Fire Department.

Also, occasionally, the Chief can make regulations governing the Department, subject to the Selectmen's approval. Previously, Selectman Rich Schofield stated through the new statute, the Board does not plan on getting involved in the day to day operations of the Fire Department


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