The Spring Town Meeting citizen petitions may have complications

Mar 5, 2024

While many of the items on the April 22 Town Meeting’s warrant are typical of the spring session, such as the election of officers, the capital plan and budgets, two citizen petitions were also included.

However, there is a chance neither can be sustained, according to Select Board Chair Judith Whiteside, who spoke on the two petitions at a Wednesday, Feb. 28 Finance Committee meeting.

The first petition was inserted by Jaako Rinta requesting the removal of the limit on licensed marijuana retailers in Wareham. The current zoning by-laws stipulate that only three can operate in town. 

The petition argues this limit on compliant business operators “hurts consumer selection, limits the public tax basis and undermines an open and well-regulated market.”

Whiteside said this petition "probably has some complications due to the law.” 

The town of Wareham is allowed a certain number of marijuana retailers based on the number of its liquor licenses, Whiteside said — a number that is set by state law. In addition, the changes — an amendment to zoning bylaws — requested by the petitioner would need a public hearing and a presentation before the planning board, among other things. 

"I have no idea what's going to happen to that one," Whiteside said, adding she thought it would be a bigger process to make the changes requested by the petition.

The second petition requests for the raising and appropriating or transferring of $25,000 to the John B. Dixon Recycling Center’s expense budget for its recycling efforts for the next five years.

Whiteside said several of the people who signed the petition are on the Recycling Committee. She spoke with one of the people who signed the petition, and explained that the Center has its own sources of funding, including state grants and their own fundraising opportunities. 

"I believe, based on my conversation with this individual, that this article will not be brought forward by the petitioners at the Town Meeting," Whiteside said. 

The Spring Town Meeting will take place on Monday, April 22 at 7 p.m. in the high school.