Cheshire Selectmen Preparing for Dollar General Questions

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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The board in concerned that citizens

CHESHIRE, Mass. — The Board of Selectmen spent much of their Tuesday meeting deliberating over possible issues that may arise at next Tuesday's annual town meeting.

With frustration over the proposed construction of a Dollar General box variety store on Route 8, the selectmen expect discussion from the town meeting floor. The board has been contacted about the situation as well as heard rumors that the topic will be brought up for discussion.

Town Moderator Edward St. John IV said he will only allow progressive discussion and he would rather the meeting not be a forum for people to vent their frustration.

"I am going to limit the discussion, especially if it just a rant," St. John said. "… I don't want to stifle discussion, but on the same token my job is to run an efficient meeting."

The topic is not on the town warrant and can only be brought up under Article 13, which allows discussion on any other business. No action can be taken at the meeting and only a conversation, such as asking the town to change the zoning laws, can take place. The town is already working on updating its zoning laws.

The board was also asked if petitioners could stand outside of town meeting to speak out against the construction of the store. They are allowed to stand 150 feet from the door.

"Maybe no one will show up, but with the number of calls I have been getting I don’t think that will be the case," Selectmen Robert Ciskowski said.

The board also discussed the possibilities of a Proposition 2 1/2 override should Adams decide to increase the Adams-Cheshire Regional School District budget at its annual town meeting on June 19.

With a $300,000 budget gap, the school district was forced to make cuts that include teacher layoffs and much-needed maintenance projects. There are rumors that there will be a push for a budget increase at the Adams town meeting.

If Adams decides to raise the school budget, it must negotiate with Cheshire, which would mean changes to the town's whole budget. With only a few thousand dollars keeping Cheshire under the levy limit, a negotiation would mean an automatic override situation.

"If the rumor out there is to increase the budget $300,000 then our share is $100,000, and we don’t have $100,000," Cheshire Town Administrator Mark Webber said. "We have $2,000 and that is what makes it complicated."

Both towns would have to approve an increase; Cheshire can’t be forced to increase.

In addition to the town meeting discussion, the selectmen received a letter from the state Department of Transportation saying it can require Dollar General to apply for a Vehicular Access Permit. Dollar General would have to do a traffic impact study to see if construction of the store will negatively affect the state highway and create safety issues.

This could change aspects of the development of the property.

Town meeting is at 7 p.m. on Monday, June 9, at the Cheshire Elementary School; voter check-in is at 6:30 p.m.

Tags: dollar store,   school budget,   town meeting 2015,   zoning,   

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