League of Women Voters Hold Their Annual Warrant Roundtable
Town leaders preview the motions for the March 23 Annual Town Meeting.
For anyone who couldn’t make it to the annual Westford League of Women Voters Town Meeting warrant roundtable discussion, here are a few of the things you missed.
Since voters approved the statewide ballot measure to allow Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers here in the Bay State, many communities have been scrambling as to whether or not a Treatment Center should be places in their community. With many communities either delaying or barring any debate for a Dispensary in their community, the Moratorium allows for the Board of Health to work out all the details regarding zoning among items. The Moratorium will be extended until June 302014.
“It could change, but this (Moratorium) allows the planning board and board of health of get their health together and establish some regulations before this starts happening. This will just allow us to know what we’re doing,” said Westford town manager Jodi Ross.
“What I heard is that when (Marijuana) was passed out in Colorado, they had two years to get their rules and regulations in. Here in Massachusetts, it was just passed. No rules or regulations. It was a free-for-all. So the Moratorium allows us to know what we’re doing,” she added. “It’s complicated, but I will say that it was supported sixty-forty in every district in our town. So, the majority of people Westford support this.”
Only five dispensaries are allowed per county here in the Commonwealth and each town is allowed to set up their own zoning regulations.
For Westford residents and other hungry motorists who have traveled off of Interstate 495 to grab a bite to eat at McDonalds on Route 110, the lack of a drive-thru window can inconvenient at times.
One warrant article, carried over from the 2012 Fall Town Meeting, would allow certain restaurants to allow drive-thru windows to exist at these facilities by special permit.
For Westford residents familiar with this issue, this isn’t the first time that the board has sparred over the permitting of drive-thru windows at local restaurants.
Last year’s article, a citizen’s petition, was withdrawn because the Planning Board was concerned that the plan was implemented. The board asked the town to come up with a more feasible plan for drive-thru windows.
“Back when the McDonald’s was first put in, and this issue came about, there was talk about traffic and litter,” said Board of Selectmen chairman Kelly Ross. think that there’s something in the master plan that explains some concerns that, if we did allow drive-thru windows, that the might cause many Restaurants to relocate to our area.”
Currently, non-restaurants are allowed to have drive-thru windows, which can be seen at some banks and pharmacies.
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
One of the petitioners, Sheila Tucke, felt that the name change would help take pride in the Stepinski parcel (named after the Stepinski family) and thus allow for volunteers to help repair and maintain the land for many years to come.
“For years, the Hyams Foundation bought the camps and allowed the use of the land for the kids of East Boston. Over the years, there have been many times that people have gotten the name “East Boston Camps” confused with East Boston. The Hyams weren’t from Westford. They were from East Boston. By changing the name, we figured that we could draw interest from townspeople and other volunteers to make it ours,” Tucke said.
Tucke, along with June McMorrow want to establish a closer relationship with the town and the land with the proposed name change.
When asked why there was a need for a bylaw, McMorrow added that last year they came forward with an article and that it wouldn’t be binding the way that it was written, according to the Conservation Commission.
“The Conservation Commission denied the proposal. So we had to come back this year and write it as a bylaw,” McMorrow said.
McMorrow also said that back in 2010, she approached the Conservation Committee about the need for a survey on the name change, and said that they were against it. McMorrow added that she and the other petitioners came back with a generic name that people in town would get behind.
“To me, the East Boston Camps and the Stepinski family, they’re gone. Someone suggested that we name it after the Burgess family and I looked in the phonebook and there isn’t anymore Burgess here in town. Having said that, I’m just trying to say that ‘we own it,’ and that the word ‘Westford’ ought to be in the name,” McMorrow said.
Some of the other motions on tap for the March 23 Annual Town Meeting include the matter of Community Preservation Funds, Sign Bylaws and a proposal to authorize a lease agreement for a radio telecommunications facility to be located at the Westford Highway Department up on North Street.