, Newburyport, MA

May 3, 2014

Salisbury voters face flurry of issues at Town Meeting

Newburyport Daily News

---- — SALISBURY — Town Meeting voters will weigh in on numerous issues on May 19 from the town budget and an ordinance to protect against noisy neighbors, to funding a new park and zoning for medical marijuana facilities.

Town Meeting will be held at Salisbury Elementary School, beginning at 7:30 p.m.

With Article 3 of the warrant, Town Meeting will be asked to approve a budget of $20,898,109 to support the cost of running the town. The total includes $9,716,786 to pay Salisbury’s anticipated share of the Triton Regional School District’s operating budget.

The total represents about an $800,000 rise over this fiscal year’s budget of $20,065,266, which ends June 30. The increase is due to a rise in insurance and retirement costs, as well as higher educational assessments for Salisbury’s share at Triton, Whittier Regional Vocational Technical school, and the new school currently under construction in Middleton that will merger Essex Agricultural and Peabody Vocational High schools.

Article 22 and Article 25 seek approval to borrow money for the purposes of creating a new, multi-use recreational park, as well as a new public drinking water well, respectively.

Tentatively named the Partridge Brook Park, the facility would be located behind Salisbury Elementary School on town land. With new athletic fields and environmental educational options planned at the proposed park, the town has already received a state grant for $400,000 to develop the first phase, with the hope that more money will come from fundraising or other grants. Article 22 requests borrowing $863,000, at least about half of which will be paid back by the current grant.

Article 25 requests authorization to borrow $700,000 to build Well 8. The money will supplement $800,000 previously authorized by Town Meeting for the purpose at the Special Town Meeting on May 14, 2012.

Since two medical marijuana facilities are heading for Amesbury, it may seem superfluous, but after months of work the Planning Board is bringing forward Article 26, which are the zoning regulations for the siting of a medical marijuana facility in town.

According to the proposed zoning amendment, Salisbury’s Medical Marijuana Overlay District would be established only in the town’s commercial or light industrial zones, if the applicant gains certification from state officials.

Even within the overlay zone, the facility cannot be located within 500 feet of a school, child care facility, library, playground, public park, youth center, public pool, video arcade, residential dwelling or any facility where minors commonly congregate.

Allowed only by special permit issued by the Planning Board, the medical marijuana cultivation or dispensary must employ sufficient security measures to prevent diversion to those not qualified to obtain medical marijuana.

Article 24 would amend the town’s excessive noise ordinance in a way that will define obtrusive noise for law enforcement, as well as increase the fines from $50 to $100. The town regulation would prohibit anyone from making excessive noise in a vehicle, public space or residential neighborhood.

At 7 p.m., on Monday, May 19, prior to Town Meeting, a Special Town Meeting will be held for the purpose of transferring funds from one line item in this fiscal year’s budget to another.

Transfers will be requested to cover overages in the snow and police overtime budgets, and to purchase equipment and vehicles for the police and fire departments, upgrade the town’s website and buy a public address system for Town Meeting, as well as to repair the front steps at Town Hall, currently roped off due to safety issues.

Also requested is a $460,000 transfer from the Sewer Enterprise Fund to cover the cost for the preliminary design of an expansion of the town’s sewer system along the northern corridor of Route 1, and all town roads east of Interstate 95.

Complete copies of the Town Meeting Warrant are posted at town buildings, including the library, police and fire stations, the post office, Hilton Center, the elementary school and Town Hall, where copies are available at the clerk’s office.