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Cheshire May Make Additions to Marijuana Bylaws

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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CHESHIRE, Mass. — The Planning Board will address outdoor marijuana cultivation with some possible new bylaws.
 
Toward the end of Tuesday's regular Selectmen's meeting, resident Gary Trudeau asked the board if it planned to take another look at the marijuana bylaws after a contentious town meeting earlier in the month. 
 
"It just seems like an issue that was important to a lot of people at the meeting," Trudeau said. "It didn't pass but it was a tie vote so it barely didn't pass." 
 
A citizens petition article that would have regulated outdoor growing facilities failed with a tied vote at the annual town meeting. This was in response to a proposed grow facility on Stafford Hill.
 
Even if the article passed, it was fatally flawed because said town officials because it did not go through the proper planning procedure and it was unlikely that the attorney general would approve it.
 
Either way, there was a consensus that outdoor grow facilities were a bit of a blind spot in the town's original bylaws.
 
Planning Board Chairwoman Donna DeFino, who attended the meeting, said the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission is already on it.  
 
"They are working on some new bylaws and this is not an unusual problem to Cheshire," she said. "They are working on a bylaw that addresses cultivation and potentially other issues and quantifying it."
 
After a bylaw is drafted, it will go before the Planning Board for consideration.
 
In other business, the Selectmen met with the Cemetery Commission to discuss possibly contracting out grave openings instead of it being under the Highway Department's purview. 
 
"I guess we are looking at trying to better define our Highway Department," Chairman Robert Ciskowski said. "There is a need for graves to be opened but also a demand for work out on the streets."
 
The town contracted this service out in the past and with a Highway Department squad that is spread so thin, the Selectmen are considering returning to this.
 
The commission said they were willing to explore it but did have some concerns about contractor flexibility and costs associated with moving equipment.   
 
Town Administrator Edmund St. John IV in his report said someone has shown interest in leasing the kitchen in the former Cheshire Elementary School.
 
"This is very preliminary and we have to look into the code and have an inspection," he said. "I just wanted to put that out there and there is still interest in the building."
 
The town has been slowly leasing portions of the building. So far the Hoosac Valley Regional School District central office, an exercise group, and the Youth Center are in the building.
 
Eventually the town would like to move Town Hall to the building but this would trigger building upgrades.
 
The town did allocate some money to repair a portion of the heating system but a fire suppression system also would have to be installed, which St. John said would cost over $120,000.
 
"That is just for construction that does not include design," he said.  
 
St. John said he is looking into grant opportunities and already knows of two grants that the town could apply for.

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Cheshire Faces Tough Decision With Trailer Park Roads

By Jeff SnoonianiBerkshires Correspondent

Town officials have been concerned about the condition of the roads at Pine Valley for some time. 
CHESHIRE, Mass. — The Board of Selectmen meeting was called to order Tuesday with five members for the first time in town history. 
 
After a quick and warm welcome to both new board members, it was down to business.
 
The most pressing issue of the evening proved to be the rapidly deteriorating roads within Pine Valley Trailer Park. The trailer park is owned and operated as a private business and the town is not responsible for maintaining the roads but board members feel it's reached a point where emergency vehicles and residents well being are in jeopardy. The issue at hand is whether or not to spend public money on private roads. 
 
"It seems like they just don't care," said Selectman Mark Biagini, regarding the management company's level of action to repair the private roads. Biagini, along with the rest of the board, all cited safety as being their No. 1 concern and the only reason they would consider using town funds to repair them. 
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