Royalston Selectboard recommends four STM articles, holds off on two

  • Royalston Selectboard Chair Christine Long and member Roland Hamel discussing the July 30 special town meeting. Greg Vine

  • Several residents were on hand Monday night as Royalston’s Selectboard discussed the July 30 Special Town Meeting warrant. Facing camera, left to right, Selectboard Chair Christine Long, member Roland Hamel and Selectboard secretary Diane Newton. Greg Vine

For the Athol Daily News
Published: 7/17/2019 6:54:43 AM

ROYALSTON – The Selectboard Monday night voted to recommend passage of four of six articles on the warrant for the upcoming special town meeting, but decided to make no recommendation on two other articles, submitted by citizen petition, which would amend the town’s zoning bylaws by allowing marijuana cultivation operations of up to 100,000 square feet and limit the number of those facilities. Current regulations restrict such operations to 10,000 square feet.

The date for the special town meeting is Tuesday, July 30. The date was incorrectly reported in a story previously published in the Daily News.

Article 1 is a housekeeping measure calling for the transfer of funds from the town’s stabilization account to pay bills from the prior fiscal year. The exact amount has not yet been determined.

The second article seeks a transfer of money from available funds to pay for a new motor for the Department of Public Works grader. While no figure is included on the warrant, DPW Director Keith Newton estimates the cost at up to $50,000. The grader has been unusable for several months and the town has been using Phillipston’s grader to resurface Royalston’s many gravel roads.

Article 3 asks voters to allow the town to “borrow a sum of money for the purpose of abating hazardous materials and replacing the roof at the former Raymond School.”

The loan would be paid for through a Proposition 2 ½ debt exclusion which, if approved at town meeting, would be voted on at a special election in September.

“This is a very valuable property for the town,” said board Chair Christine Long. “The town is in desperate need of better office space. The Raymond building would provide that, but the building is not usable now because of the hazardous materials in the building. The chair of the Building Committee is, as we speak, trying to pin down the amount of money that would be involved here. We’re thinking it will be in the neighborhood of $200,000.”

Long explained that the building was constructed in 1938 or ‘39 by the Depression-era Works Progress Administration.

“We need to move ahead,” said board member Roland Hamel, “because we have offices down at Whitney Hall that need a whole lot of work. In order to work on that we need to move those people out. In the long run, it’s a lot cheaper to move those offices to (the Raymond School) and then concentrate on what we can do with Whitney Hall.”

The board also voted to recommend passage of Article 4, which calls for abolition of the town’s Sewer Commission. If approved, the move would ultimately require passage of special legislation by state lawmakers. If given final approval, the Selectboard would act as the sewer commission.

The vote on each recommendation was 2-0, given the absence of board member Deb D’Amico.

The board offered no recommendation on Article 5, which calls for the change in zoning for cannabis cultivation operations, nor on Article 6, which would allow for only one such facility in town.

It was decided no recommendation would be made on the two articles, at least until after a public hearing on the proposals to be held by the Planning Board on Thursday, July 25 at 7:30 p.m. At Town Hall. The Finance Committee will be meeting 45 minutes prior to the special town meeting to vote its recommendation on the spending articles.

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