Pepperell Select Board votes to lower quorum for Saturday’s town meeting

Select Board votes on reducing required number of residents at meeting

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PEPPERELL – The coronavirus pandemic has impacted numerous town meetings, forcing some outdoors and spacing out attendees. While those meetings still had strong attendance numbers, town officials are not taking any chances this fall.

Pepperell is set to have a special town meeting this Saturday inside the Nissitissit Middle School at 9 a.m. With a new wave of coronavirus cases in the air, the town’s Select Board has taken steps to ensure a meeting goes on even if there is a lesser attendance. The board voted to lower the town’s quorum requirement for the Special Town Meeting during a regular meeting this past Monday.

Town Administrator Andrew MacLean said the motion reduces the number of residents required for a quorum from 70 to 30. The Select Board implemented this quorum change this past spring for the annual town meeting in June.

MacLean also noted that the board made the decision to reduce the quorum again in September, but are required to vote during a public meeting to make the reduction official.

“By reducing the quorum, we can do business at town meeting even if people decide to stay away for health reasons,” he added. “The meeting will be indoors with spaced-out seats and we will be asking people to wear masks.”

As for the content of the meeting, the warrant has eight articles. One of the more interesting articles is Article 4, an amendment to the zoning bylaw on adult use recreational marijuana establishments. If approved, the town would then allow a maximum of two adult use recreational marijuana establishments instead of one.

New England Craft Cultivators and Uma Flowers LLC are both looking to open marijuana businesses in town.

NECC received provisional licenses from the Cannabis Control Commission in August to open a business at 112-114 Main St., home of the previously vacant Paugus Plaza.

Uma Flowers LLC was last discussed by the Planning Board on Sept. 21 during a public hearing for a special permit to operate at 2 Tarbell St. The hearing was closed, though the board planned to address the LLC’s application at a later date.

Lisa Davis, Planning Board advisor, said that neither Uma or NECC have received a special permit from the town. Davis noted that if the proposed amendment is not approved, the Planning Board will have to make a decision on which proposal meets the proper criteria to be granted a special permit. Uma’s proposal would be reviewed first since the LLC submitted its proposal before NECC.

Another article to watch is Article 7, asking for the town to vote to approve the Outdoor Lighting Bylaw. Developed overtime by the Pepperell Light, Air, and Noise Bylaw Committee, the bylaw is meant to reduce light pollution and conserve energy in town by limiting the use of outdoor floodlights, search lights, strobe lights and other powerful distracting light sources at night.