MERCER — A marijuana ordinance and a contested selectperson seat are on the secret ballot for the town’s municipal election Saturday.

Polls will be open for the town’s approximately 300 voters at the town office/community center from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The annual Town Meeting will be held April 10 at 1 p.m. at the town office/community center.

“We had quite a few residents that were concerned about the meeting being inside with COVID and everything, so we pushed it back,” said first selectperson Ricky Parlin.

Incumbent third selectperson Dari Hurley faces challenger Christopher P. Dutill for the third spot. All other municipal races are uncontested.

Mercer residents can vote on several referendum questions Saturday.

The first question regards to enacting an “Adult Use Marijuana Manufacturing and Cultivation Facilities Ordinance.” The ordinance allows for an unlimited number of 500 square feet or less cultivation facilities (Tier 1), unlimited 501-2,000 square feet cultivation facilities (Tier 2), and unlimited nursery cultivation facilities.

To start, only two facilities up to 7,000 square feet (Tier 3) will be allowed. Tier 2 licensees may apply to update even after the initial cap is met. No facilities up to 20,000 square feet (Tier 4) will be allowed, but a Tier 3 licensee may apply for an upgrade to a Tier 4 facility during the license renewal process.

The ordinance also allows for two product manufacturing facilities that use Inherently Hazardous Substances and an unlimited amount of product manufacturing facilities that use Generally Safe Extraction Methods. The ordinance also outlines application processes, limits, standards and license pricing in great detail.

“I think the biggest concern when we first put it out was that we were limiting how many people could grow, and they felt our price for getting an application and that type of stuff was up there,” Parlin said. “So, we changed it all that any little guy could have it in a Tier 1 or a Tier 2, but we also put in other restrictions so someone like a Walmart couldn’t buy them all out.”

Mercer residents will also decide whether to allow the sale of liquor to be consumed at licensed establishments on Sundays, to authorize the municipality to spend no more than one half the amount from the 2021 budget during the first six months of 2021 and to pass a resolution to call on federal elected representatives. The resolution would ask representatives to enact fossil fuel pricing legislation to speed the transition to clean energy sources and to charge producers of pollution associated with burning fossil fuels, giving the money back to citizens.

At the April 10 Town Meeting, residents will vote on the town’s requested $724,288 2021 budget, up from $669,925 in 2020. The 51-article warrant is posted on the town’s website. Voters will also decide whether to appoint the town clerk and tax collector or vote candidates into the office.

The budget committee actually did not recommend the budget, voting against it 2-3. The committee voted in favor of most of the aspects individually, though.

“At least 90% of our budget was approved by the committee,” Parlin said. “There were a couple of them that were null, or three or four of them that they didn’t weigh in  … The biggest part of them, the budget committee approved.”

Parlin said fixing roads is paramount for the town.

“We have no industry, no business to speak of, so all of our taxes have to come from (property) taxation,” Parlin said. “We can’t go up on taxes tremendously. … In order to keep up, we’ve got to invest in our infrastructure, our roads.”

Budget totals for 2020 and 2021 have been corrected and updated.


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