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Articles to Look for on This Year's Sharon Town Meeting Warrant

Here is a snap shot of some of the articles on this year's warrant.

With Sharon's Annual Town Meeting taking place at 7 p.m. in the Arthur E. Collins Auditorium at Sharon High School, here is a breakdown of some of the articles on this year's warrant:

Articles 8 and 9: These two articles deal with increasing the local room occupancy tax and adding a local meals tax increase revenue for the town.

Article 8 asks the town to approve an increase of the local room occupancy excise tax from a rate of 4-percent to 6-percent.

"It is estimated by the Finance Director that passage of this Article will result in an annual increase of $57,000 in revenue to the Town. This rate of tax is currently imposed by Canton, Norwood, and Foxboro," the warrant says.

The Board of Selectmen voted 3-0-0 in favor of approving the article and the Finance Committee voted 6-0-0 in favor of approval.

Article 9 seeks to impose a a local meals excise tax of 0.75%.

0.75% amounts to 7.5 cents on a $10 meal bill and 75 cents on a $100 meal bill. The Finance Director estimated that the tax would bring the town $107,000 in revenue annually.

The tax is currently in place in several surrounding communities, including Foxboro, Mansfield, Norwood, Stoughton, and Walpole.

The Board of Selectmen voted 3-0-0 in favor of approving Article 9 and the Finance Committee voted 6-0-0 in favor of approval.

Article 17, 18, 19 and 20: These articles deal with the expansion of benefits for veterans and those on active duty who live in town.

Article 17 asks the town to "authorize the Board of Assessors to grant additional real estate tax exemptions for specific categories of veterans and their survivors, individuals with disabilities, individuals who are legally blind, and qualified elders."

Article 18 would allow veterans to volunteer to provide services to the town in exchange for a reduction of up to $1,000 of the real property tax in addition to any exemption or abatement to which that person is otherwise entitled.

Article 19 would exempt active and full-time military service members and those on active duty abroad from having to pay excise tax on one motor vehicle owned and registered by them. To recoup the loss of revenue, the town would impose a surcharge of $3.00 to delinquent motor vehicle excise tax bills.

Article 20 would allow active National Guard and National Guard Reservists from Sharon who are stationed outside the Commonwealth to defer their excise tax for up to 180 days after completion of service. No interest or penalties would be assessed during that time.

All four articles were voted unanimously by the Board of Selection and Finance Committee in favor of approval.

Article 21: This article would amend the Town’s Zoning By-Laws in order to prohibit medical marijuana dispensaries in town effective until June 30, 2014.

“That’s a pending matter and the rationale for that is to allow the state public health department to develop regulations and they’re going through that process,” said Sharon Town Administrator Ben Puritz.

The article would also put on hold the cultivation of marijuana for authorized medical purposes.

During the moratorium the town would be tasked with planning potential zoning regulations for medical marijuana facilities.

The Planning Board voted 4-0-1 in favor of approval. The Board of Selectmen voted 3-0-0 in favor of approval. The Finance Committee voted 5-0-1 in favor of approval.

Article 22: This article would put in place a one-year moratorium for adult entrainment businesses being established in town.

According to the warrant: "At the May 7, 2012, Annual Town Meeting, the Town approved a By-Law relating to Adult Entertainment Uses. The 2012 By-Law mirrored Adult Entertainment Use zoning articles adopted by other Massachusetts municipalities that had been approved by the Attorney General. However, the Attorney General’s office disapproved the Town’s 2012 By-Law, based on a Federal District Court decision which held that a similar by-law adopted by another Massachusetts town was unconstitutional because it was too restrictive. The new Section 4100 will prohibit any Adult Entertainment uses in the Town until the earlier of May 6, 2014, or the adoption by the Town of a superseding Zoning By-Law, setting forth permitted locations for such businesses, and providing other related requirements. During this moratorium period, the Town is to undertake a planning process concerning potential zoning regulations for such uses."

Puritz said the town would like to see zoning for adult entrainment businesses on Route 1, away from establishments like religious institutions and schools.

"It’s a matter of regulating it and controlling it as opposed to non-regulation which would allow adult zoning to effectively, from a zoning point of view, be a permissible use in commercial business districts,” he said. “So rather than having all of the commercial business districts in town, it’s a way of directing adult zoning.”

For more information on this year's Town Meeting follow these links:

FINAL 4.15.2013 Town Meeting Warrant (pdf)
STRIKETHROUGH - marijuana moratorium (pdf)
STRIKETHROUGH  - Adult zoning moratorium (pdf)  
Article 2 Prof District B REDLINE 032813 (pdf)  
Red-Line version Article 3  - wastewater treatment (pdf)
The Sharon Health Department has Pneumonia Vaccine available.
Emergency Management Resident Registration Form (pdf)

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