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State Legislators Address Bellingham Selectmen

Feb 28, 2017 07:00AM ● By Lynn Ulsh

Pictured (L-R) are Selectman Dan Spencer, State Senator Ryan Fattman, Selectman Mike Soter, State Rep. Kevin Kuros, Selectman Don Martinis and Town Administrator Denis Fraine

State Senator Ryan Fattman and State Representative Kevin Kuros addressed the February 13 Selectmen’s meeting regarding issues from this legislative session that affect Bellingham, including the budget increase for schools, the Route 495 initiative, MassHealth enrollment and recreational marijuana.

Fattman announced that there would be an increase in the state budget for educational funding, which translates into an approximate increase of $63,000 for the Bellingham School District. Other increases in the budget include the money set aside for IT infrastructure and Special Education initiatives, including services for students after the age of 22.

The legislators noted that there will be a meeting in March regarding the Bellingham interchange of Route 495. Plans will be discussed to increase safety and mitigate traffic problems by creating a bypass similar to the “flyover” created in Franklin.
Kuros said that the legislature has predicted a jump in the enrollment for MassHealth because of the elimination of the provision that employees of a company that provides healthcare could not apply for the MassHealth program. Kuros noted that the Affordable Care Act abolished that provision and that now there may be a gap in the funding for the MassHealth program. He reported that the legislature will look into additional funding options, including fees for employers.

When asked about the vote in the recent election for the legalization of the recreational use of marijuana, Kuros noted that in an informal session, the legislature delayed the legalization for six months in order to form a special committee to research questions of potency, the number of plants allowed, protections against sales to minors, labeling and consumer awareness procedures and the effects of local by-laws.

Fattman said that the discussion on the legalization of marijuana leads into the topic of the opioid epidemic, which the government is trying to address. He explained that they are trying to “play catch-up,” addressing the crisis with a hope that an increase in state revenue will allow Massachusetts to form a special coalition to battle the increasing epidemic.

New England Country Club Development Plans Discussed

New England Country Club owner Rod Walkey and his representatives, Peter Freeman and Frank Bonvie, updated the Board of Selectmen regarding plans to develop an over-55 condominium development around the existing golf course.

Walkey said that there is an abundance of land surrounding the golf course, located at 180 Paine Street, since the property includes over 330 acres, of which the golf course takes up only 120 acres.

He noted that the project will require a special permit for zoning and that currently they are going through the Planning Board process and have notified the abutters.

Plans are to phase in the project over time, eventually creating 600 to 800 units. Later phases would include constructing an additional exit onto Wrentham Road.

Walkey stressed that the addition of the condos would increase patronage of local businesses and restaurants, without adding significantly to the school population since the clientele would be over the age of 55.

The golf course will remain open to the public.





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