Special Town Meeting delayed to March 13

Jan 4, 2021

The Special Town Meeting, originally scheduled for Dec. 19 before being moved to Jan. 16, will now be held on March 13.

Town Moderator Claire Smith decided to issue two thirty-day recesses due to the ongoing covid-19 pandemic. 

“This warrant is of interest to many voters in Wareham and we should afford the opportunity to as many voters as possible to participate in the discussion and the vote,” Smith said. 

She plans to hold the delayed meeting outdoors to allow plenty of people to come without risking their safety. 

“An outside meeting on the Gatemen baseball field will allow more attendees to participate in as safe a manner as we can provide,” Smith said.

The warrant for the meeting includes a zoning change and two articles related to Westfield.

The zoning proposal, brought by the Notos Group and written in conjunction with Town Planner Ken Buckland, was initially titled the “Hospitality, Recreation, and Entertainment” district, but was renamed the “Economic Opportunity Overlay District.”

Although the developers are the group behind the proposed Wareham Park racetrack and casino, they insist that the proposal is not tied to their specific project.

The district in question is nearly one-quarter of the town’s landmass, stretching from Charge Pond Road to the Plymouth border at the north and west and bounded in some areas by Rte. 25.

The zoning proposal mandates a minimum lot size of 100 acres, which would restrict development to large projects with a master plan.

The proposal includes a long list of potentially allowable uses, including hotels, conference centers, restaurants, retail stores, multiple family dwellings, hospitals, education, riding stables and indoor or outdoor recreational facilities. Some uses would not be allowed: manufacturing, junkyards, slaughterhouses, cemeteries and crematories, or trucking terminals.

All zoning changes need to be approved by two-thirds of voters at Town Meeting.

The warrant also includes an article that would give the board the power to lease land at Westfield for a term of up to thirty years. 

 Westfield currently hosts the Wareham Girls Softball and Wareham Youth Soccer fields.

The Wareham Tigers youth football and cheerleading program has requested the use of the property for a complex that would include several fields and a gymnasium.

Back in 2010, Town Meeting attendees approved an article that restricted a portion of the Westfield property for senior housing. However, Sullivan said that the town put out two requests for proposals for developers, and there was no interest in senior housing at the site, due in part to the lack of sewer access.

Therefore, Town Meeting voters will need to first vote to override that 2010 article before offering a lease.

The lease would need to be given through a bid process, so it is not guaranteed that the Tigers will secure the land. The Tigers are not currently seeking any town funding through Community Preservation.