Wesport Particular and annual city assembly for June fifth

Jeffrey D. Wagner

WESTPORT – The future of legal marijuana sales and household concerns will likely be the focus of Saturday’s special and annual town gatherings.

Voters gather at 9 a.m. at Westport Junior / Senior High School for a special city meeting with one article, followed by an annual city meeting with 38 articles.

Article 21 of the arrest warrant for the town’s annual meeting will uphold all sales of non-medical marijuana, but will distribute such business uses between the science and technology district and the adult entertainment district. These zones are in the northern part of the city along State Road. The building size would be limited to 40 feet high and required a 500 foot required setback from home ownership lines.

More:Westport Town Meeting prohibits the sale of recreational marijuana

Article 22 will seek zoning to ban the sale of non-medicinal marijuana. Article 23 will also seek to ban it, but allow an exemption for applicants who have been granted a special permit for non-medical marijuana before the May 4th deadline. Such an exception would apply to coastal healing.

Coastal Healing is located at 248 State Road, is building a facility there and is the only business with a permit. Coastal Healing was originally just seeking medical approval. Brian Corey, an attorney who represents Coastal Healing, said a medical-only license wasn’t as profitable as planned, so many marijuana companies are trying to diversify their stocks by selling non-medicinal marijuana as well.

The planning committee approved the first of these three articles by majority vote, which does not prohibit non-medical marijuana.

The Planning Committee agreed earlier this year to add the other two articles to the warrant so that the public can decide on the matter.

More:The planning authority approves the change that would uphold the non-medicinal pot ban

Prior to the city’s annual meeting, a special city meeting will ask voters with an article asking them to impose a 3 percent excise tax on retail sales of adult marijuana.

Coastal healing

After years of voter rejection, a February 2020 city council special vote – on a petition from Coastal Healing – approved the lifting of a ban on adult marijuana use.

Eight months later in October, a special meeting of the city voted to reinstate the ban, but the attorney general rejected the vote in April. Attorney General Maura Healey stated that the October meeting “was an attempt to restrict the use of marijuana through general statutes where the city had previously zoned such uses,” Healey wrote.

More:AG ruling contradicts changes to Westport’s marijuana statutes

James Whitin, a member of the planning committee, said Healy’s vote will not affect the marijuana items for Saturday’s town hall meeting. Whitin said zoning articles – which require a two-thirds majority – will be passed.

The October articles sought to reintroduce a ban through general statutes rather than zoning.

The finance committee says voters will be presented with a balanced budget, but this will reduce the needs of many city governments as well as the capital requirements.

“I’ve checked the income and expenditure projections and multi-year capital planning, and the numbers keep adding up to the same thing – a growing structural deficit, underfunded capital needs and an inability to build up adequate cash reserves,” said Vice Chair of the Finance Committee Karen Raus.

“While voters can see that this recommended budget is in balance, the challenge is to make everyone aware of what you ‘don’t see’ in the budget and how widespread and systemic the underfunding is across all departments. Westport needs to think beyond what we need today, beyond what we need today. If we don’t look ahead, we’ll never get there. “

Members of the finance committee say there are no plans to override Proposition 2½, but they say one may be imminent at a future city meeting.

Committee members say the city has relied on certified free cash – or unrestricted funding – over the years.

“Our (former) city administrator … Jack Healy warned us early on that the drastic cut in state aid following the 2008 economic crash left a structural deficit that cannot be cured by free money games and that we, like other communities in the Approval of an appropriate Prop 2.5 override, ”said Charles“ Buzzy ”Baron, longtime member of the finance committee.

“By 2009, nearly 1,800 Massachusetts cities and towns had been overwritten.”

Still, the Finance Committee has recommended that certified free cash be used for a handful of items that will appear at the town council.