Vote on two articles on Nov. 7; information hearing on Oct. 30

Fall is all up in our faces, which means Halloween is knocking at the door. And that means November is coming up the steps.

With November almost at the threshold, an election is imminent. That’s right, on Tuesday, Nov. 7, there will be an election in Charlotte.

With just two articles, it will be a sparse ballot. There is nothing on the state or national level to vote on in Vermont this November.

So, when you mark your Australian ballot, you will just be casting your vote for those two town articles.
One of the articles is to authorize the town to install solar panels on the roof of the new town garage. That project is not to cost more than $282,510 and be financed by a bond that is not to take longer than 10 years to pay off.
The voters have already voted to fund the building of the Charlotte Town Garage, but the solar panels were not included in that vote.

The second article is to approve (or not) land-use amendments related to commercial cannabis businesses and are intended to give guidelines to the zoning administrator and the development review board in regulating and granting permits for cannabis businesses in Charlotte.

There are already four cannabis businesses in Charlotte. Although all four are licensed by the state of Vermont, only two are operating with local licenses.

If these land-use amendments are approved by voters on Nov. 7, it would give the town tools for regulating such businesses, according to the planning commission which put in a year working on these amendments.
The development review board was close to having the amendments to land-use regulations ready for selectboard approval in May, but then the legislature made changes to its statutes. The development review board took some time to consider how those changes affected a town’s authority to regulate cannabis businesses and incorporate the changes into its proposed amendments.

When the articles came before the selectboard for its approval, town administrator Dean Bloch pointed out that state statutes now allow a selectboard to adopt amendments or a board can put amendments before the town voters.

Some of the selectboard members said they weren’t comfortable with having the board make the decision. They wanted the public to weigh in on the amendments.
“I don’t like that kind of authority,” chair Jim Faulkner said. “It’s a town issue, and town voters should be making it.”

The development review board felt this was an opportunity for the town to make sure that these new businesses conduct themselves “in a way that is in keeping with our local standards,” town planner Larry Lewack said.
Although towns are limited by state statutes in how much they can regulate commercial cannabis operations, particularly in regards to their being agricultural enterprises, they do have more leeway in regulating them as businesses. This position has been confirmed by the town attorney and the Vermont League of Cities and Towns, Lewack said.

If the articles are confusing to you or you would like to hear more about them, there is a public information hearing at 6:30 p.m., Monday, Oct. 30, at the town hall. Town officials will be present to explain the two articles and answer questions.

Here’s the wording of the two articles:

  • Article 1 Shall the voters authorize the acquisition of solar energy equipment and its installation on the roof of the Town garage in an amount not to exceed Two Hundred Eighty-two Thousand Five Hundred Ten and 00/100 Dollars ($282,510) to be financed with debt instruments other than bonds over a period not to exceed ten (10) years (the “Solar Project”)?
  • Article 2 Shall the Town amend the Town of Charlotte Land Use Regulations at Sections 2.4 (Commercial/Light Industrial District definitions of Permitted and Conditional Uses), 2.5 (Rural District definition of Conditional Uses), 3.12 A) 3) and 6) (Performance Standards), 4.3 (Adaptive Reuse of an Existing Structure), 4.17 (Temporary Structures), 4.20 (Cannabis Establishment) and 10.2 (Definitions) for the purposes of defining “cannabis establishment”?
    Here’s a link for more information.