Happy Columbus Day or Indigenous People’s Day, depending on your perspective.
Town officials this week will be warily watching the Abington’s COVID-19 numbers, which have been climbing over the past three weeks. As of this morning, 38 people in Abington are in quarantine because they have tested positive for the virus. That number alone, isn’t particularly significant considering the town’s population is 16,000. What is worrying, however, is that the number of positive cases have risen steadily over the past three weeks: on Sept. 21, there was only four active cases. The increase means Abington is now a “yellow” community – the second highest of the four risk level classifications.
Abington health officials have consistently urged residents to wear masks when in public, maintain social distancing, avoid large gatherings, and to stay home if not feeling well. But there’s also a concern many are dealing with COVID fatigue after spending the past six months altering their lives to fight the pandemic.
Eyes are also on Abington’s school system which reported three more coronavirus cases among school community members since Friday. Two of those cases required people who had been in close contact to go into quarantine as a precaution.
Schools Superintendent Peter Schafer said in an interview last week that there is no set number of positive cases that would automatically send classes back fully remote — but he’s watching it carefully.
As of now, schools remain in the hybrid model and fall sports are fully under way.
The School Committee will meet in person on Tuesday to discuss a number of items including how the schools are doing so far. The meeting, which begins at 7 p.m., will not be open to the public, but will be broadcast live via Abington Community Access & Media.
Town Hall is busy this week getting ready for next Monday’s special town meeting.
The Planning Board on Friday evening will hold a public hearing on whether the town should lift its current cap on the number of retail marijuana licenses allowed. NashMac, LLC, of Braintree is behind the push; it wants to create a multi-faceted operation in Abington that, if successful, would create dozens of jobs and generate hundreds of thousands of new tax revenue.
But first they need two retail licenses: one to operate a retail marijuana store front on Adams Street, and the second to operate a delivery service that would bring cannabis products to homes across the region. In both operations, Abington would collect the local sales tax revenue.
The company also wants to establish a cultivation and manufacturing operation at the Adams Street property. But company President Michael Nashawaty says in order to finance those pieces, his business needs to also have the retail and delivery operations in place.
The town voted in 2018 to offer two retail marijuana licenses, both of which have been issued. Neither store has opened yet.
Voters are being asked to lift the cap to allow as many as five retail operations, and are not voting specifically on the NashMac proposal. In order to approve the zoning bylaw change, two-thirds of those in attendance will have to view in the affirmative. Nashawaty’s project would still need to obtain a community host agreement through the board of selectmen and undergo site plan review by the planning board, as required by state law.
One possible monkey wrench: state rules still prohibit more than 25 people in a room. If more than 25 people show up to Fridays hearing, it would have to adjourn immediately, throwing Monday’s vote in doubt.
Abington News will publish a separate special town meeting preview article later this week.
For those intrested in attending the special town meeting, the same precautions that applied to the annual town meeting in June will apply to this one.
On Wednesday, the Griffin Dairy Farm Committee will meet to go over some of the work that took place this year at the town park. That meeting will start at 5:30 at the Senior Center.
School Committee: 7 p.m., Middle/High School Auditorium. (Closed to the public) Agenda includes a discussion about the 2021 MCAS test.
Griffin Dairy Park Committee: 5:30 p.m., Senior Center. Agenda includes work conducted this past year.
Planning Board: 5:30 p.m., Town Hall. Board is conducting a public hearing on a proposed zoning bylaw amendment to increase cap on retail marijuana licenses.