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A large crowd attends Thursday's hearing of the Zoning Board of Appeals. They broke into applause when it was confirmed a pot farm had withdrawn its application.

Williamstown Pot Farm Proposal Withdrawn by Applicant

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The applicant who had sought to create marijuana plantation on Blair Road withdrew its application for a special permit on Thursday night.
 
Massflora, a subsidiary of Colorado-based Euflora Cannabis Dispensaries, asked the Zoning Board of Appeals to let it pull the application with prejudice.
 
"My client thinks it's beset not to pursue that site and this project at that location," Massflora's attorney, Don Dubendorf, told the board.
 
Massflora already had approval from the town's Conservation Commission to go forward with the project, which included a 5-acre outdoor plantation and a 7,000 square-foot building.
 
But the bylaw regulating marijuana that town meeting passed in 2017 allowed production facilities only by special permit.
 
A March hearing before the ZBA drew a capacity crowd to the Selectmen's Meeting Room -- almost all in attendance to express concerns about the negative impact of the proposed facility in the neighborhood.
 
Pointing to the "substantially not more detrimental to the neighborhood" standard in the bylaw for special permits, residents who live near the proposed site cited several detrimental consequences, ranging from the noxious odor of marijuana in the field to light pollution from the security lights Massachusetts law mandates for such a facility.
 
Residents also expressed a fear that even with the state-mandated security measures in place, a pot-growing facility would attract crime -- using the example of a California case described in the January 2018 issue of Rolling Stone. "Several men in tactical gear, posing as authorities and armed with rifles, had ambushed the property," that article read in part.
 
Although word circulated on Thursday through the neighbors' attorney that Massflora planned to withdraw its request, more than a dozen residents still attended Thursday's hearing, breaking out in applause when the issue was laid to rest.

Tags: ZBA,   marijuana,   

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Williamstown Select Board Seeks New Proposal on Parking Regulations

By Rebecca DravisiBerkshires Staff

Michele Gietz, who owns Where'd You Get That on Spring Street, objects to changes in parking regulations downtown at Monday's Select Board meeting.

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Select Board hit the brakes Monday on proposed changes to town parking bylaws.

Town Manager Jason Hoch at the Oct. 7 meeting presented a series of changes outlined in a memo from Police Chief Kyle Johnson. Together, Hoch and Johnson took stock of the town's parking rules over the last year after substantial completion of the construction on and around Spring and Latham streets prompted a revision to the spots designated as legal in the town's bylaws.

From that conversation sprung a wider evaluation of the bylaws and proposals that would impact parking throughout the town, from lifting the ban on overnight parking to taking time limits off Park Street. Hoch said at the Oct. 7 meeting that he hoped to give the board time to consider the proposals before approving any changes at its Oct. 21 meeting.

But at that Oct. 21 meeting, all five members of the Select Board said they had heard many concerns from residents about the changes.

"We've heard from a lot of folks," said Chairman Jeffrey Thomas, particularly comments in regards to potentially allowing overnight parking Spring Street lot and changes on Park Street. "These are great. We love to hear from the community."

Three members from the community came out Monday to be heard. 

First, the Rev. Nathaniel Anderson, pastor of St. John's Episcopal Church on Park Street, spoke against lifting time limits on Park Street. While churches tend to be "underutilized" buildings outside of Sunday services, St. John's is not.

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