Plymouth Selectboard discusses retail cannabis, Hawk taxes

At the Monday, Sept. 19, 2022 Plymouth Selectboard meeting, the board discussed whether or not they would “opt in” and approve retail cannabis in their town. Photo provided

PLYMOUTH, Vt. – After Chair Jay Kullman called Monday, Sept. 19, 2022 Plymouth Selectboard meeting to order, those in attendance observed a moment of silence in honor of former Town Clerk Sandy Small, who passed away recently. The suggestion was made to plan some type of public event in her honor. The board agreed to discuss candidates for a new Town Clerk at the next meeting.

A petition for a retail cannabis shop had been presented to the board, and a motion to hold a special meeting was filed. The board recognized they needed to formally respond, and added the item to the agenda of the special meeting. Board member Keith Cappelini said that, before the petitioner could move forward with the dispensary, local residents would have to approve the petition and choose to “opt in.”

Cappelini mentioned Vermont had just issued the first three retail cannabis licenses that day. He went on to explain that the State Cannabis Control Commission had set up the program on an “opt in or out” basis, leaving the decision up to the voters in each township. If the voters choose to “opt in,” the retail operation is considered approved, and the petitioner would then be required to obtain a license, and meet zoning and other requirements. If the town votes to “opt out,” the petitioner may be able to appeal, or resubmit their request, but Cappelini was unclear on the specifics in that case.

After some discussion, the board agreed they should implement a license fee, much like a liquor license, with a yearly renewal fee. The motion for the local board to implement the license fee, as well as additional taxes was presented and seconded.

The next agenda item concerned the request for an ARPA grant from the Plymouth Store. A lengthy debate over the use of public funds for private business commenced, and it was mentioned that utilizing the funds for upgrades to the store also benefits the greater community. Some voiced concern that money appropriated for “community development” is meant to fund more of a town center, and not a privately owned business, regardless of its larger impact on the community. Questions regarding who is eligible to apply for these funds, and if the funds extended from the Covid relief package were raised. It was decided that more research would need to be conducted, and an ongoing conversation would have to be continued.

A request for a grant was presented by the Ladies Aid for the Library Association, pertaining to the Tyson Library. Quoting statistics from the past two plus years that show a major drop in total circulation of library materials and visitations, the association’s request for $3,100 would cover the cost of repairing and refreshing the library ceiling, which the association hopes will spur renewed interest in the library. Kullman mentioned there may be a surplus of funds, but that it will take more time to review and make sure the request “meets all the criteria.” It is agreed the request will be revisited at the next meeting.

The Hawk tax collection update announcement recieved a round of applause from those in attendance, as Kullman exclaimed, “We got a big, fat check!” The board went on to say it took nearly seven years of work to retrieve the almost $300,000 in delinquent taxes, and that the new owner was now planning to move forward with development.

Discussion over the Articles to be voted on in the November election took place, including the question of whether Plymouth would be declared a Second Amendment Sanctuary town. Several years ago, in response to proposed regulations for gun owners, some towns in Vermont, including Plymouth, had declared themselves “gun sanctuary towns,” without allowing a vote at the time. Now, the designation was being put to the voters, although no laws would change vis à vis gun regulations or ownership.

Other agenda items included an update on the installation of a new cell phone tower. A site visit will need to be scheduled to determine improved coverage area, the location of the tower, and how it may affect the land use value. The board also discussed road improvement, and paving projects, the possibility of renaming approximately six town roads to expand 911 access, and how to handle the fact that some people’s addresses will change. There was some discussion on last year’s town audit, and policies that may change because of the findings, but it was determined more conversation and follow up would be necessary.

Kullman presented several roofing bids, and reviewed the quotes with those in attendance.

The board also discussed the $800,000 bond proposal for the municipal building renovation.

Board member Rick Kaminski mentioned Carol Goodwin is participating in the ongoing discussion with the bonding company, and that they had scheduled a conference call for next week.

Finally, Kaminski stated that the boiler at the Town Hall had been “red-tagged,” and since the parts are no longer available, the whole boiler will need to be replaced. Kaminiski said this has to happen before winter, obviously, but was hopeful that the installation could now be incorporated into the system of new heat pumps and generator, all energy efficient upgrades resulting from ARPA, ultimately saving the town a significant amount of money.

The next Plymouth Selectboard meeting will take place on Monday, Oct. 3, 2022.

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