Date for Fall Town Meeting Confirmed 

At Monday’s Board of Selectman’s (BOS) meeting, the annual Fall Town Meeting was set for 7:30 p.m. on Monday, November 18 at Essex Elementary School.  There’s still technically one week to submit citizen petitions for articles, but as of now, there is one main article set for consideration, a town-wide ban of single use non-recyclable material (including polystyrene) in restaurants and other establishments

with prepared food.  This includes straws, to-go containers, cups, etc..  If passed, the ban would take effect on July 1, 2020.  The idea was first brought to the board by two young students back in February.

Prep for Cannabis Retailer Host Agreement Negotiation

Two weeks ago, we ran a rather long article on a public forum held by the owner of a proposed recreational marijuana retailer, BB Botanicals, that essentially marked the beginning of its formal process to obtain a state license to operate in Essex.  The second requirement is negotiating what’s called a host operating agreement with Essex on specifics beyond the three percent local tax on all sales that will go to the town. The state gives towns and the proposed retailer approximately six months to negotiate that agreement.  By law, towns can receive up to an additional three percent of sales (for a total of six percent) to make up for various “impact” areas from the retailer’s ongoing operation. Think traffic, health, safety, congestion, etc. On Monday, Selectman Peter Piffen said the board has been researching other host community agreements and found interesting food for thought (such as minimum additional fees, parking attendant resources, sidewalk installation, environmental projects and charitable gifts to the host town).  

Resident Daniel Mayer (of Liberty Road) said  many in Essex want transparency in the negotiation process.  They’d like to be heard and included in the process, just as town officials (police, etc.) are asked to weigh in.  He also sought clarity on whether the impact funds were reimbursements (requiring strict accounting) or estimates that are paid in principal.  All good points, as far as the board was concerned. The BOS moved to create a negotiating committee comprised of Selectmen as well as town officials (like Police Chief Paul Francis and/or Board of Health Administrator Erin Kirchner who manage local liquor and tobacco sales regulations). It’s likely to include community reps as well.

“Coffee with a Cop”

This item is a little lighter.  At last week’s Essex Chamber of Commerce Division meeting, Police Chief Paul Francis said the department will kick off a new program next week called Coffee with a Cop, which will be held on Wednesday, November 6 from 5:30–7:30 p.m. at the Essex Council on Aging, 17 Pickering Street.  The department’s been getting a lot of emails about crosswalk safety, so Francis is bringing along Sgt. Daniel Bruce and Officer James “Jim” Romeos (traffic liaison) to the session. The public is welcome and encouraged to attend. It’s Francis’ hope that over time, Coffee with a Cop will become another open-door policy program that better connects residents with police.

11 Acres

Mark this under “planning ahead.”  Ed Neal, former serial board member (Selectman, Board of Health, School Committee, among others) brought a novel idea to the BOS Monday, which he said sprang from the Building Committee’s site search last year for the new public safety building.  While it didn’t fit the bill for the safety building site, an 11-acre parcel of land abutting the town’s transfer station could be the answer to expected challenges and limitations of the current DPW headquarters on Landing Road (which has only one access road and an increasing structural vulnerability of the bridge that heavy equipment and trucks use to access it).  With funds from Conomo Point real estate proceeds, Neal said, the town could seek to purchase the land adjacent land and at the same time solve its double issue of no second egress at the DPW while also getting ahead of an expensive infrastructure fix with the bridge when that time comes. The BOS liked it enough to explore the idea further. Neal said he would approach the owners of the land and report back.  If anything is to happen, approval of the purchase and move would be made at the 2020 Spring Town Meeting.

Clamfest!  It’s Here.

Saturday, October 26 is almost here, and it will be the Chamber of Commerce’s 37th Annual Clamfest / Arts & Crafts Festival.  The festivities start at 11:00 a.m. at Shepard Memorial Park and will go until 4:00 p.m. The clam tasting portion of the day goes from noon to 2:00 p.m., and those with tickets ($10 to taste, while supplies last) can dig into chowder offerings from Village Restaurant, Woodman’s, CK Pearl, Shea’s Riverside, JT Farnhams, Winward Grille, Lobsta Land, Ipswich Clambake and the Mile Marker One.  There will be vendor booths and entertainment. Also, brews from Ipswich Ale.

There’s a lot going on in Essex. Got something for Essex Notebook? Tell us about it here!