Residents at tonight’s Special Town Meeting in Middleboro will be asked to approve a pair of controversial, but unrelated, bylaw changes, to increase this year’s budget by nearly $500,000 and to spend $200,000 of the Community Preservation fund.
Chairman of the Selectman Stephen McKinnon said the Conservation Commission’s proposed change to the wetlands bylaw could stir debate because many feel it erodes ownership rights.
Town meeting will also be asked to restrict pot farms to the commercial district. McKinnon said if passed selectmen will also consider an additional layer of pot farm regulations through the Board of Health.
Spending articles include a $70,000 upgrade for police weapons. McKinnon said it took police 3 shots with a .40 caliber gun to stop suspected murderer Thomas Buttimer in July and officials believe .45 caliber guns will provide better stopping power.
Town meeting could erupt into a contentious debate over a 7-foot landmark cross that has raised the ire of civil rights activists because it’s on public land.
Officials want to put the public land in the hands of the local Kiwanis Club, to satisfy the concerns raised by an out-of-town attorney who questioned why a religious symbol was on a small traffic island.
To resolve the issue the state and county plan to donate their shares of the island to the town of Middleboro.
Last week Jeff Stevens, a member of the First Unitarian Universalist Society, lobbied selectmen to stay out of the fray.
Town meeting will get underway tonight at 7 p.m. at the high school.