Dedham's Special Town Meeting sailed through its entire 15-article warrant Monday night, approving everything, including a new “adult use” district” at Legacy Place, in less than half an hour.
The new “adult use” zoning district will include all of the Legacy Place shopping complex and nearby Stergis Way. The zoning would allow strip clubs and stores selling sex toys and X-rated materials.
Numerous court cases have ruled that “adult’’ businesses are protected by free speech rights and can locate anywhere other businesses are allowed -- unless they are controlled by specific zoning rules.
Dedham was forced to confront the issue two years ago, when a lawsuit brought by the only adult shop in town revealed a potential problem with the Dedham zoning rules, officials said. Town Meeting approved a new “adult district,” off Allied Drive on the Westwood line, but the state Attorney General rejected it for procedural reasons.
The Legacy Place site isn’t near homes, schools, or places of worship, and the property owners indicated they were extremely unlikely to rent to an “adult” business, officials said.
In other business, Dedham Town Meeting voters also approved adopting the state’s “brunch law,” which means selectmen can allow restaurants and hotels to sell alcoholic beverages between 10 a.m. and noon, on Sundays, Christmas Day, and Memorial Day.
“Just because it passed Town Meeting doesn't mean restaurants can start serving,” Dedham Selectwoman Sarah MacDonald cautioned. “Next step is for the board to set up a process by which license holders apply to serve at brunch, and the board considers them on a case-by-case basis.”
The Dedham Finance Committee, which reviews all warrant articles for Town Meeting, was divided on whether to recommend approval of the contract for the local Police Patrolmen’s Association -- voting 7-2 in favor. The contract includes stipends to cover education incentives, to make up for money the state used to pay under the “Quinn Bill” but has significantly cut back.
But Town Meeting voters had no apparent qualms about the expense, approving it handily.
They also approved an increase –- by $3,000 to $9,000 a year -- in allowances paid to widows of disabled public employees, and a limited time tax amnesty program, which allows residents to pay late real estate taxes without interest or penalty charges.
Johanna Seltz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.