Southwick annual town meeting passes all articles

There were a select number of articles that gained more attention than others.

Registered voters of Southwick attended the Annual Town Meeting on Tuesday night. (Photo by Greg Fitzpatrick)

SOUTHWICK, Mass. (The Westfield News) – The Town of Southwick held their Annual Town Meeting in the Regional High School auditorium on Tuesday evening. Numerous registered voters attended the meeting and voted on the 28 warrant articles presented.

Mentioned in a previous article by the Westfield News on May 15, there were a select number of articles that gained more attention than others.

Article 17, which was the vote to take $1,000,000 out of the Community Preservation Committee Fund, was given much discussion prior to the vote.

Christopher Pratt, the Chairperson for the Conservation Commission, expressed his passion for the $1 million that would go towards the $5 million that needs to be raised in order to preserve the North Pond property.

“We are extremely in favor of this project,” said Pratt. “If this was denied, the land wouldn’t be for public use.”

Marcus Phelps, who is a member of the Community Preservation Committee, addressed the residents, especially geared towards individuals who live or use North Pond on Congamond Lake.

“It’s a very important piece of property,” said Phelps. “It’s the last remaining lakefront property on North Pond.”

Franklin Land Trust has been spear-heading this project along with North Pond supporters in Southwick and were pleased to have been in attendance to see the decision in their favor.

“We’re very pleased, that was a big hurdle,” said Rich Hubbard, the Executive Director of the Franklin Land Trust. “I was blown away by the support of the town.”

Several warrant articles affected the town’s Department of Public Works.

Article 7 focused on the town paying $238,000 in order to purchase a new dump truck.

The current dump truck is over 20 years old and DPW Director Randy Brown noted that the purchase is necessary as the aging truck would continue to have issues if they the residents didn’t choose to vote in favor of a replacement.

For Article 8, the DPW’s Water Commission requested $400,000 for two pump stations, one on College Hwy and another on North Longyard Road.

Article 9 featured a much higher figure as the Water Commission asked for a sum of $3,260,000 to pay for the costs of the College Hwy Water Main Replacement Project.

According to Brown, the costs would only go towards the water users that would be using these particular pumps. The two pumps will be an upgrade to the current situation.

“This main has been prone to breaks over the last few years,” said Brown.

Article 18 dealt with a water line easement requested by the Water Commission, that would be purchased by Franklin Land Trust, so part of the water line could run through the North Pond property.

There is a $30,000 purchase for the water line easement, but Franklin Land Trust Director of Land Development, Alain Peteroy, said that more money would have to be raised.

Near the conclusion of the Annual Town Meeting, the medical marijuana moratorium was addressed in Article 26 where the vote was to amend the zoning bylaws for medical marijuana dispensaries.

With the state legislature having no set regulations on either medical or recreational marijuana until March 2018, the Planning Board felt the moratorium was a good step forward.

“This moratorium would give us time,” said Roz Terry, the Chairman of the Planning Board.

Article 27, which addressed recreational marijuana, was geared more towards selling recreational marijuana at retail stores in town.

All 28 warrant articles were either unanimously voted in favor of or passed by a majority or two-thirds majority vote.

Copyright 2017 The Westfield News