Wilton board discusses increase in cannabis operations

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WILTON – On Tuesday, Wilton Town Manager Perry Ellsworth approached the selectboard with a concern about the growing number of cannabis operations in Wilton. “I feel that we’re out of control,” he said. “We ought to have a moratorium on any new growth facilities until we take a look at this again.”

Ellsworth pointed out that after Wilton recently lowered their rates, many cannabis growers have been and, he predicts, will continue to be attracted to the town. Combined with Farmington’s much higher rates, Ellsworth is concerned Wilton will be a sought-after location for cannabis grows. He asked the board to keep in mind the family recreation aspect of the town and how these two will reconcile. Selectperson Mike Wells made a motion that Ellsworth write an emergency moratorium for any further dispensaries and grow facilities. The motion failed when no one seconded it.

Chairperson David Leavitt said that he was reluctant to make a decision on this topic without knowing what the fee structure should actually be. “The regular tax payers of the town should not be footing the permitting for any business,” Leavitt said. “The fee should cover the cost of it.”

The board ultimately decided to push off this decision and continue to monitor the issue in the meantime.

The selectboard was presented with a resolution for the ongoing Community Resilience Partnership. The town of Wilton recently worked with the public to propose a list of potential projects at the grant-required Community Workshop on February 21. The requested projects include a heat pump system in a municipal building, a plan for energy efficiency in municipal buildings, collaborations with the local school district for school building improvements, a natural resource and habitat inventory, and much more.

By signing this contract, the town of Wilton commits to participating in the Community Resilience Partnership. This partnership supports the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and increase in resilience to climate change impacts including extreme weather. The contact designates Ellsworth as the coordinator, planner, and monitor of all projects. Ellsworth informed the board that they can apply for $50,000 in funding for these proposed projects at this point and more in the future.

Selectperson Keith Swett made a motion to sign the resolution. Selectperson Wells voted against it. He reminded his fellow selectboard members that if they sign this contract, this program will hold the town accountable for their carbon footprint.

“That’s not a bad thing, if that’s what you want, but it takes away autonomy from the town,” Wells said. “That’s just my two cents after doing some research.” Despite his reluctance, the board voted to pass the motion and sign the resolution.

The board also went over a change in the contract with Beeline Cable. The company is no longer going to have a local office, which was formerly in Madison. They will still have an office in Maine, but it will be further away. The town’s contract with Beeline was amended to reflect that change. Selectperson Phil Hilton made a motion for the board to sign the amendment. Selectperson Tiffany Maiuri seconded the motion and they voted unanimously to pass it.

This meeting was recorded by Mt. Blue TV and is available for viewing online at MtBlueTV.org

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