By Beth David, Editor
Acushnet Selectboard members spent a little time poking fun at the state and its negative wording of the ballot question for the April election. If the majority of voters check off the “yes” box, then it will mean they do NOT want to have any recreational marijuana facilities in town. If they vote “no,” well, then that means “yes,” they do want one.
The question asks if the town “shall prohibit,” marijuana establishments of all types, instead of asking if voters want to allow it.
Board member Roger Cabral asked if they could change the word “prohibit” to “allow,” but Town Administrator Brian Noble said they could not. The language has been approved by the state and has been used by many towns in Massachusetts since the law passed.
Mr. Cabral said it might as well read: “A yes vote means you are against being in favor of repealing the abolishment of stopping the approval of an end to allowing the start of marijuana establishments in Acushnet.”
“I agree, it can be confusing,” said Selectboard chairperson Kevin Gaspar with a chuckle. “I do agree it’s a little convoluted.”
Mr. Gaspar suggested that the board table the issue until Mr. Noble can find out if a word change is possible. In any case, the wording would have to be approved by the state. The town’s election is on April 2, 2018. Mr. Noble said that the wording would need to be approved quickly to meet all the deadlines for the ballot to be approved.
Although Acushnet voted to approve recreational marijuana last November, it was a close vote, 2768 to 2748, giving the referendum to ban shops in town a good chance.
Another option is to ask Town Meeting to pass a moratorium until the state finalizes regulations and the town can create its own zoning regulations, a move Mr. Gaspar said he would like to pursue in any case, to be proactive in case the town does not ban the shops.
If there are no zoning or other regulations in place when the deadline passes in December, 2018, then a shop could, conceivably, open up in any neighborhood with little regulation from town boards.
The board voted to table the matter to give Mr. Noble time to look into the possibility of changing the language.
In another matter, the board voted to approve a conservation restriction on four parcels of land totalling 30 acres, all west of South Main Street.
The parcels include the 21-acre Keating Woods, with frontage on South Main Street, and three smaller parcels, including Riverside Marsh and one other property on the banks of the Acushnet River.
The Acushnet River Reserve, Inc., a subsidiary of the Buzzards Bay Coalition, owns the properties. They will be open to the public for passive recreation wherever it will not be detrimental to the habitat.
The BBC and ARR plan on developing trails on the Keating Woods property.
The board also voted to approve most licenses for businesses in town, holding a handful for a variety of minor issues.
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