CLARKSBURG, Mass. — With the successful passage of a retail cannabis bylaw, town officials are now starting to look at a fee structure for all the licensing and inspections that will need to happen.
Those fees can include but are not limited to: applications, zoning compliance certification, building inspections, Fire Department inspections, security and legal fees, and host community agreement legal review fees. Most are one-time fees, others may be annual.
"We're also going to have to establish some parameters on the Board of Health, an annual inspection fee like for instance we have for restaurants," Town Administrator Carl McKinney told the Select Board on Wednesday. "Because they are having a consumable product, if you will. ... I'm trying to get some numbers, I don't want to wildly throw some numbers out there, but I want to be somewhat consistent with the other communities."
The community host agreement provides payments up to five years. Hadley had negotiated an agreement for a medical dispensary four years ago for $50,000, McKinney said. Northampton did not sign a host agreement but instead will receive $100,000 a year and a 1.5 percentage of the profits of its dispensary. Other communities have negotiated not only money, but levels of hiring for local people or for diversity.
McKinney noted that a much larger town like Hadley, which is also in densely populated area, can command more.
"With the understanding we're a smaller community, but that can go right into the general fund," he said.
The state Cannabis Control Commission is expected to begin accepting applications for licenses for retail marijuana and related production facilities in April, with the first of about 75 licenses statewide to dispensed in June. Communities are seeing the state legalization of pot as new source of revenue since the state will also allow a local sales tax of up to 3 percent.
However, as more states legalize marijuana, the level of competition will grow. There's also the concern that the U.S. Department of Justice will interfere in the growing trade because it remains illegal at the federal level.
McKinney said he was going to go through the current fee schedule and will add in the fees for the marijuana licensing and certificates and have it back to the board by mid- to late February.
"We should up and running and ready to go for when the floodgates open," he said.
Chairman Jeffrey Levanos also asked if there were going to be changes to the solary array bylaw approved in December. A number of residents had expressed concern that the overlay district for large commercial arrays was limited to one section of town on the west side. At least one resident is trying to install an agricultural array — an installation designed to work with agricultural pursuits — off Daniels Road.
"My thought is to just expand the overlay district to those areas that are appropriate for it," McKinney said. He anticipated putting that to a vote at town meeting after the Planning Board holds hearings. "I think that will be an easy one because we don't have to change tables or any of the uses, it's just going to expand the overlay district."
Any array would still have to go through the permitting process and abuttors within 300 feet of a property line would be alerted to the fact that any proposal was seeking permitting.
In other business:
• McKinney said department budget requests were coming in and he expected to hold the first budget review on Jan. 22. The town now has a full Finance Committee comprised of James Stakenas, Mark Denault and Ronald Boucher, a former North Adams city councilor who recently moved over the border.
The governor's budget should be released in a little over two weeks and McKinney thought a good sign was that state revenues were pacing $720 million over what had been anticipated.
"I don't know if that means they're going to find it in their hearts to help out small towns and cities with state aid, or put it in the rainy day fund in Boston, or fund other initiatives they weren't able to fund with the budget they passed last year," he said. "But at least one good thing out of that is it's unlikely that will get the governor's 9C cuts halfway through the year."
• The board had placed David Dunn of Middle Road on the agenda but he did not attend the meeting.
iBerkshires.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue; please keep comments focused on the issues and not on personalities. Profanity, obscenity, racist language and harassment are not allowed. iBerkshires reserves the right to ban commenters or remove commenting on any article at any time. Concerns may be sent to email@example.com.
iBerkshires.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue. Name-calling, personal attacks, libel, slander or foul language is not allowed. All comments are reviewed before posting and will be deleted or edited as necessary.
Comments are closed for this article. If you would like to contribute information on this article, e-mail us at info@iBerkshires.com
Clarksburg School Seeks Town Support to Pursue Renovation Plan
By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
CLARKSBURG, Mass. — School officials are planning to submit a statement of interest to the Massachusetts School Building Authority next year.
But they want to make sure there's town support before considering any building project.
Voters rejected a $19 million renovation and addition project in 2017 but gave the OK to a $1 million borrowing last year, giving half to the school for infrastructure projects. The school's put in new boilers, had some asbestos-abatement done, created an accessible bathroom, redone the nurse's office and teachers room, and installed a new secure entrance and public address system. The electrical panel is the next project and all schoolwork will be remote on Thursday and Friday while it occurs.
"We've done these great projects over the last six months here, but we still have a tremendous amount of work to do in that building. It's not over," Assistant Superintendent of Operations & Finance Jennifer Macksey told the School Committee last week. "The superintendent and I are having conversations with the town about what our next steps are. ... We need a renovation project to go forward with the SOI, but we need to be sure we have the town's support before we invest a lot of resources in that process again."
The district was looking at 2021 as a target date but had considered submitting an SOI earlier this year. It held off as the state grappled with falling revenue from the novel coronavirus. The MSBA is funded by a penny from the state's 6.25 percent sales tax.
click for more
Beginning Monday, Oct. 5, Grades 1 through 5 will attend in person all day, Monday through Friday. Kindergarten and Grades 6 to 8 will go half-days in school and half-days remote, also Monday through Friday, with two cohorts switching between mornings and afternoons.
click for more
The board held a joint meeting with the Board of Health to determine if it was time to begin easing restrictions on the use of municipal buildings, especially since the Clarksburg School has opened for hybrid learning.
click for more
The debate over the definition of the structures — and whether there was a permit issued for their construction — lead to heated exchanges between town officials and the owner at last week's Planning Board meeting.
click for more