The Plympton Board of Selectmen met remotely on Monday, September 13. The Board of Selectmen voted during the meeting to approve a Host Community Agreement (HCA) with marijuana distributor Sweetgrass Farms, LLC. Town Administrator Liz Dennehy said she and Selectmen Vice Chair Mark Russo had taken the lead on the negotiation with Sweetgrass owner and area native Nick Rizzo. The cultivation site would be at 77 Spring St. Russo said, “the industrial park is the exact right place for this project.” Russo also said, “I feel really good about this end product… I think this is a document that is fair to both sides.” He also called Rizzo a “fair but energetic negotiator” and said, “I think we’re dealing with really respectful, talented people who want to do the right thing.” Built into the contract is a $5,000 annual contribution to a local charity or non-profit to be selected by the town. Rizzo said that he considers that to be a minimum noting that he hopes to be able to contribute even more. The Selectmen voted unanimously to approve the agreement.
Police Chief Matt Clancy attended the meeting to share with the Selectmen his review and analysis of the Department’s use of force over the last year. The review is a requirement for a certification and accreditation program Clancy has entered into. “It’s just another piece of the transparency that we’re building,” Clancy explained. He said he expects to see it become a requirement in Massachusetts eventually.
Clancy told the Board the Department has reviewed their use of force policy three times in the last two years, noting that the amendments were minimal as their policy was already progressive. He said that Massachusetts has come out with what they consider to be a model policy and that the Plympton Department’s policy was nearly identical. The report is generic and includes incidences but does not include names. Clancy told the Selectmen there were no complaints of excessive force and no injuries. Drawing a taser and engaging in a pursuit both qualify as use of force. “I’m very happy with how things were handled… I think the officers showed a tremendous amount of restraint in a number of situations,” Clancy said. The Selectmen thanked him for his hard work on this initiative. Selectmen Chair Christine Joy said, “You think this stuff doesn’t happen in Plympton, it does… it’s nice to know that it was handled so well by our officers.”
Clancy will be leaving the Plympton Police Department to serve as Chief of the Bureau of Capitol Police in Maine. The Selectmen voted to appoint Scott Benton to serve as interim Police Chief as of October 4.
Joy provided an update on the Carver Urban Renewal Plan as she attended the meeting that was held on the project on Sept. 7. She said her main takeaway was that Carver still has quite a lot of work left to go in the process. She said the developer performed a balloon test that revealed the extent of the scope of the project. Joy said that they estimate that 75 households in Plympton will be affected by the project. Carver has promised to keep Plympton abreast of all meetings.
Selectman John Traynor requested a discussion on the uses of the Old Townhouse. He was particularly concerned with it being utilized by the Council on Aging (COA) for fitness classes. He said he would like to see the building outfitted with a better Wi-Fi lock. Director of Elder Affairs Colleen Thompson called the current lock “kind of a farce.”
Joy suggested that there may potentially be better places to hold such classes noting that the town has a pending lawsuit against them from someone that fell. Russo said that they should discuss appropriate uses for the building further during another meeting. Thompson argued that building needs to be used if insurance is being paid on them. She countered Joy’s argument saying that it felt like a town group was being asked to seek a private location to engage in town sponsored events. Resident Shannon Maxwell said, “You’d have a group of very, very happy women if we could go back to working out in a building this winter and not in our bedrooms.” The Selectmen voted to approve a three-month trial use of the building for the COA fitness club from October 1 through December 31.
Dennehy provided the Town Administrator’s update. She said that she met with the Kingston Town Administrator, the Plympton and Kingston Police Chiefs, the Plympton Highway Superintendent, Police Officer John Sjostedt, and the Kingston DPW Director to discuss possible heavy truck traffic exclusions on Ring Rd. Plympton would need Kingston’s approval to move forward with the process. Dennehy said Kingston said they are not interested at this time as they had concerns that it could result in such traffic being redirected down other roads in their town, particularly Elm St. She said they are, however, open to future conversations. Regarding the Main St. component, Dennehy said that the Highway Superintendent wants to verify with MassDOT that implementing the exclusion would not preclude them from grant opportunities including roadwork.
Dennehy said she had a successful meeting with Habitat for Humanity. She said they have an environmental professional on their team who will look through some of the town’s data on possible lots in an attempt to narrow it down to a piece of land in order to proceed with a project. The town would need to verify before moving forward on a project that there were no other non-profits who might be interested in the land.
Dennehy said she has been in communication with The Greater Attleboro Taunton Regional Transit Authority (GATRA) in order to iron out what the level of service they would provide would look like. She noted that the town would need to be sure they could afford it. Finally, Dennehy told the Selectmen that the town was still hovering around a three percent positivity rate for COVID.
During their traditional rants and raves, John Traynor said that the COA is having an issue getting enough drivers for their Meals on Wheels program. He called his rave a sad one saying, ““Chief Silva and his crew did a wonderful job on the 9/11 ceremony.” Both Russo and Joy said their raves were for all of the work being accomplished in town and the progress being made. Russo said, “with patience, progress comes.”