Planning Board: Cannabis not an issue for us yet

  • Royalston Planning Board Chair Kate Collins responded to question regarding special permits for cannabis operations at Wednesday night’s board meeting.  —Greg Vine

  • Royalston resident Bob Casinghino posed several questions to the town’s Planning Board regarding special permits for marijuana businesses, at Wednesday night’s board meeting. —Greg Vine

For the Athol Daily News
Published: 8/16/2019 9:55:23 PM
Modified: 8/16/2019 9:55:10 PM

ROYALSTON – While there’s been a lot of discussion about a proposed marijuana cultivation operation being established off South Royalston Road/Route 68 – an amended Host Community Agreement is currently being negotiated with the operator, Damon Schmidt – the Planning Board emphasized at its meeting Wednesday night that no special permit has yet been requested for the operation.

One of the residents in attendance, Bob Casinghino, asked the board, “As you go through and look at special permits that may be presented to you, how do you relate what you need to look at for a complete permit application?”

Casinghino was referring to two separate sections of the town bylaws, one regarding special permits generally and another specific to cannabis-related businesses.

“We look at both,” said board Chair Kate Collins. “There are the requirements that are in the special permit section, and in a bylaw, such as the marijuana bylaw, that specifies a special permit. In that part of the bylaw it lists what we expect in an application. When an application comes to us, the board has to determine whether that application is complete or not.”

She said that as it states in the bylaw, if an applicant requests waivers on any of those things, the planning board considers those things and then responds to that person either ‘yes’ or ‘no.’

Casinghino also asked how the board determines the viability of proposals from applicants to abide by requirements established in a special permit, such as the installation of devices to mitigate odors generated by an operation.

“If someone just writes down that they’re going to do something, with no detail,” said Collins, “then they don’t get a special permit, because there is not the backup we need to determine what the effects of this project would be on the town.”

“Since this is something we haven’t done with the marijuana bylaw – we have no application yet,” Collins continued, “we have had special permit applications from ground-mounted large-scale solar. What it says in the bylaw, the Planning Board can hire whatever consultants we need to verify that what these people are saying in their application is in fact doable. That’s what we did with the solar and that’s what we would do with the marijuana.”

“At the cost of the applicant,” board member Amy Sanden was quick to add. “The applicant pays, that’s what we did with all of the solar applications.”

Resident Janace Wamboldt said she felt the town’s bylaws weren’t specific enough. She quoted a section which stated “the proposed usage must not be injurious or destructive to the town.”

“Words like ‘injurious,’ that leaves the interpretation wide open,” she said.

Collins said it’s up to the Planning Board to make that decision. “And we do not do that lightly,” she said, “It’s a discriminatory process that we look at along with the consultants we hire, the information that comes in, the public hearing information; all of that is what we consider.”

“I have to just say,” said Sanden, “is where was everybody a year ago when this was all brought to the town meeting floor and (the marijuana bylaw) voted on? Anybody could have requested an amendment. It got voted in by a large majority, if I remember correctly.”

“The Planning Board’s not in a position,” said Casinghino, “nor can they address Damon’s plans, because Damon hasn’t come here yet.”

“His plans aren’t before us, period,” said Collins.


E-Edition & Local Ads


Weather


athol forecast

Most Popular


Body found in town being treated as a homicide

Social Media




Athol Daily News

PO Box 1000
225 Exchange Street
Athol, MA 01331
(978) 249-3535

 

Copyright © 2019 by Newspapers of Massachusetts, Inc.