Swansea town meeting to weigh marijuana zoning, fire station study

SWANSEA — During Swansea’s annual and special town meeting Monday residents will weigh whether to expand the area in which marijuana businesses are allowed to operate and vote on funding to explore replacing or expanding fire stations in town.

The special town meeting will start at 7 p.m. on Monday, June 14 at the Joseph Case High School and will be followed by the annual town meeting.

Most of the warrant articles are straightforward measures meant to address basic maintenance in the town and small zoning changes, including some that were pushed back a year after the 2020 warrant was shortened because of the pandemic.

One article would allow the town to spend up to $150,000 on a feasibility and design study to weigh the possibility of replacing the fire department’s Station 1 and expand Stations 2 and 4.

Of the town’s four fire stations, said town administrator Mallory Aronstein, Station 1 is the oldest — it was built in 1966. While there are no concrete plans to replace it right now, Aronstein said it makes sense to explore whether changes are necessary as the town’s population expands.

“This is to put on paper what our current needs are, make our projects and what it would it would look like if we moved to having a new Station 1,” she said.

Fire stations in town might have to be expanded to allow for new, larger fire fighting equipment. Modern fire trucks are bigger than their predecessors.

 “They just simply don’t make the smaller ones anymore,” Aronstein said.

Another article would create a marijuana overlay district in the town’s zoning bylaws in a lot on Route 6. Currently, marijuana facilities like cultivation businesses and dispensaries are only allowed in the town’s manufacturing district, Aronstein explained. The lot in question straddles the boundary between the manufacturing district and a business district, so marijuana businesses are allowed on part of the lot but not the other.

“It just makes the lot defunct because it’s divided in half,” she said.

Currently, two businesses hold the special permits required to open any type or marijuana facility in town, but haven’t taken any other steps toward opening one, Aronstein said. But, she said, it made sense to create an overlay so that the whole lot could potentially be used for the same sort of business.

“It’s really the only lot in the town that has those restriction on it,” she said.

Audrey Cooney can be reached at acooney@heraldnews.com. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Herald News today

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