Voters approve most ordinance changes

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OXFORD — Special Town Meeting voters in Oxford approved changes to the tobacco, zoning and dog ordinances, but turned down proposed amendments to the Cemetery Ordinance on September 20 when voters said the town first needs to step up and take care of its cemeteries.

The Special Town Meeting, that was held prior to the regular meeting of the Board of Selectmen, drew about 50 voters to the Town Office.

Voters approved amendments to the Tobacco Use Ordinance which bans product use and smoking, including electronic smoking devises, from the town’s ball fields and Pismo Beach; better defines the Dog Ordinance by adding terms and definitions such as a nuisance dog and a dangerous dog and makes changes in the Zoning Ordinance including additions to the table of land uses including Tiny Home setbacks and requirements; re-establishing a limit on medical marijuana permits and other “housekeeping” changes.

Voters turned down a request to amend the Cemetery Ordinance saying the town must step up and take care of its cemeteries before any changes should be considered.

The proposed amendments define what cremation remains must be in a vault, puts the responsibility for opening and closing graves on the site owner, not the town, requires cornerstones on all new lots; restricts pet burials unless it is at the same time and with its owner.

Voter Sharon Jackson said there have been no repairs to stones and that money should be put in the budget for repairs and maintenance of the town cemeteries.

She said the state of at least one town cemetery is “a disgrace.”

Following the Special Town Meeting, the Board of Selectmen met in regular session and agreed to table a request a change to the sewer rates  that would increase some and decrease others.

Town Manager Butch Asselin said some of the water consumption increase could be offset by residences who install a sub meter to remove the amount of water being used to water grass and gardens.

Selectwoman Samantha Hewey asked that the board table the action  and go back to the table and look more closely at the impacts, particularly to residents.

In other business, the board also tabled plans to deal with nonprofit groups seeking town funds at Annual Town Meeting. Chairman Floyd Thayer said he objected to using taxpayers’ money and said people could make donations to the  non profits.

Other board members however argued that there should be a policy that allows nonprofits to seek town funding that benefits Oxford, but still remains fair to taxpayers.

Nonprofits can petition a town meeting with 10 percent of the total town voter turnout in the last gubernatorial election (or 230 voters signature) to place the request on a town meeting ballot as well.

ldixon@sunmedagroup.net