News Brief: Special town meeting to focus on housing-focused zoning changes, limits on marijuana establishments

Regulations regarding swimming pools, downtown business district use requirements and standards for mixed-use commercial development are also on the agenda. An amendment to the town’s design advisory committee and its review standards will also be considered.

Great Barrington — A special town meeting Tuesday, Sept. 15, at 6 p.m. will consider a variety of zoning bylaw changes, switching to a quarterly property tax payment system, and several citizen petitions. The meeting will be held in a “drive-in” set up at Monument Mountain Regional High School.

View the meeting warrant here.

“Some of these items were held over from our annual town meeting, and some are new items that have arisen since,” said assistant town manager Chris Rembold, also the town’s director of planning and community development. “A number of meeting proposals are meant to promote housing opportunities, since we recognize the serious housing shortage facing our town residents.”

Zoning proposals include amending bylaws for accessory dwelling units and “moveable tiny houses,” and changes to bylaws for multi-family housing and planned use residential development. Another would allow for the conversion of nursing homes into multi-family housing by special permit.

The meeting also seeks voter approval to transfer a parcel of town-owned residential property on Grove Street to the affordable housing trust.

Regulations regarding swimming pools, downtown business district use requirements and standards for mixed-use commercial development are also on the agenda. An amendment to the town’s design advisory committee and its review standards will also be considered.

A limit on the number of marijuana retailers in town is also proposed. At present, one is operating and five others have host agreements with the town. Seven is the proposed maximum.

Nonzoning matters include increasing the billing requirement for property owners in the event of false alarm activations and a proposal to switch to a quarterly tax billing system. The town presently bills semi-annually for property taxes. Another item would allow town meeting participants to “call the question” when discussion over a warrant item has been deemed sufficient.

Several additional housekeeping items are also on the agenda, including a phased-in tax assessment agreement for a commercial property in Housatonic; and approval of easements for the Main Street sidewalk extension in Housatonic and for the town that goes through the former Searles School property. There is an article seeking permission for eminent domain action for properties on Tom Ball Ridge, the owner of which is unknown; the property would be used for conservation purposes.

Several citizen petition items seek further regulations related to marijuana establishments. Two others address changes to rules for citizen speak time at town board meetings as well as proposed changes to selectboard policies and procedures. Another seeks to prohibit hazardous waste dumping, storage or disposal in Great Barrington; and another is a nonbinding petition calling for the state to close down and outlaw private, for-profit prisons in Massachusetts.

In addition and regarding Zoning, another citizen petition seeks to re-map approximately 59 parcels within the town’s mixed-use district to R3 (residential) use.