Town Meeting in Deerfield 2018

Deerfield's Planning board, at left, and Selectboard on the right at last night's Town Meeting at Frontier Regional School.
Deerfield’s Planning board, at left, and Selectboard on the right at last night’s Town Meeting at Frontier Regional School.

It was a long night in Deerfield last night, with nearly every parking spot taken at the Frontier Regional School for the annual running through of the spending warrant among a gathering of Deerfield taxpayers.  On one side, another crowd sat, but they were identified as non-residents, so technically they could neither vote nor speak.

Tom from Clarkdale Orchards weighed in with several questions.
Tom from Clarkdale Orchards weighed in with several questions.

At one point the topic of the warrant concerned adding more liquor licenses to the town since we are at the limit.  A woman spoke up from that side, and after a few sentences, someone in the crowd reminded her that she isn’t a resident so she doesn’t get a say. As the owner of three package stores, with one in Deerfield, she clearly had a stake in the eventual outcome…which permitted three all alcohol and three beer and wine. We learned that the new Bittersweet Cafe, which has replaced Savages Market, as well as the new Deerfield International Market and Ciesluk’s Market downtown have all applied for these new licenses.

I hadn’t been to a TM in a few years and I was surprised at the rancor that comes up between Planning Board, Selectboard, and the public. On almost every single warrant item, the Selectboard and the public voted down the Planning Board as well as for the most part Selectman Henry Komosa.  Watching Carolyn Ness up on stage, seeing how she voted each time the way I’d vote, and hearing how hard she’s worked to rid our town of mosquitoes convinced me to vote for her next week.  I had flirted with another candidate…but between Carolyn’s hard-working demeanor and young Trevor McDaniels, I think we have a winning team.

McDaniels fought hard and won against the Planning board for his idea of putting $35,000 away as a bulwark against the future retiree health care costs. It’s not enough, as he said, but it’s better than the $10K that the board was willing to save.  Again and again as the hands went up, it was the public and two Selectboard members prevailing.

But the biggest debate was to come. It’s about locating and collecting tax from marijuana shops, now that our state legalized in 2016. And as Deerfield is a YES town, it’s clear that though the naysayers would chime in, the citizens voted in a majority to reject an outright ban and to solidify and codify the new law with one retail dispensary and as many cultivator licenses as people apply for.

I was going to speak out about the pot law, but the fact is that it’s already a done deal…and this was simply semantics about where they would go and how many there would be. The town fathers were clever when they wrote a law that requires a whopping 2000 feet of separation between two retail shops. With the ‘marijuana overlay district’ not even being that big, and the Industrial Park saying flat out no, there will only be one store, in the red house across from the Red Roof Inn.