ADAMS, Mass. — The Planning Board decided on Monday to work on crafting a bylaw aimed at allowing outdoor marijuana cultivation.
David Rosenthal and Carol Shumans are looking to grow 25 plants on their property at 127 Walling Road. They currently grow 12 plants under the recreational category.
"What we'd like to do is market it as a family owned local business," said Rosenthal. "Sun grown, mountain grown, organic product, which we think can be marketed to dispensaries in Adams or throughout the state. The key is trying to make this a specialty product, like a craft beer so people would be attracted to its uniqueness ... where it's grown."
The idea was originally brought up by their two grown children and couple believe that will be part of the draw.
"Locally grown. Family farm. We are all on board with it," Shumans said. "We're only looking to double our growing. We've had twelve plants for a couple years and we're just looking to go to 25."
The couple own slightly over 2.5 acres and the operation would take up less than 5,000 square feet. This would put it in the Tier 1 outdoor marijuana cultivator category.
Town Planner Kevin Towle told the board that the operation would not be permitted under the current zoning bylaws and that one would have to be drafted and approved before any decisions on specific cases were made.
"The board has historically indicated that they want to put a bylaw into place and re-evaluate over time," he said. "We thought that there was quite a bit of planning in Mr. Rosenthal's proposal so we brought it before you to see whether or not the board would be supportive of re-evaluating the sustained marijuana bylaw and perhaps making it more permissive in instances like this. Any marijuana facility would still have to come to [the Planning Board] the way the bylaw would exist."
Chairman David Rhinemiller brought up a broad concern of legality to Towle: "It is still federally illegal. What are the complications with us adjusting [the bylaws] further if the federal government gets involved?"
Towle responded by citing the industry's rapid growth while still exhibiting a bit of caution.
"I can't speak for the federal government but I think there's some risk inherent in the industry as it exists now but that certainly hasn't slowed the industry at all," he said. "There is a movement toward legalization on a national level. I don't think we're risking any new consequences. Anything that could happen with this [change], could happen now."
Adams currently allows indoor cultivation in commercial and industrial areas and Towle would like to see that studied further to utilize the agricultural land in town.
Board member Dave Krzeminski had concern regarding odor, which was addressed by Rosenthal.
"Right now it hasn't been an issue for anybody as we've been growing it the last two years," he said. "There are also certain strains that are lower in odor."
Any bylaw drafted would first need the approval of the Planning Board before moving to the Board of Selectmen. Should the Selectmen approve, it would then go to town meeting. The town-approved bylaw would then go to the state for final approval.
The consensus from the board was to start the process of drafting a bylaw to allow special permits for outdoor cultivation of marijuana on a case-by-case basis.
Chairman Rhinemiller expects the process to take several months and doesn't see any decisions being made before spring.
Under the topic of old business, the board will hold a meeting on Monday, Sept. 23, to continue a public hearing on the controversial topic of adopting a 40R overlay district.
Chapter 40R is a state program that makes money available to cities and towns who adopt the zoning overlay district aimed at increasing the supply of housing while reducing its cost. Projects under 40R usually involve an agreed-upon percentage of affordable housing (based on the median income) as part of the development.
Some residents fear an influx of affordable housing would put further strain on already highly taxed homeowners while others feel it would spur smart, controllable growth in a slow building market.
Representatives from 1Berkshire, Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development, and local attorney Don Dubendorf will be on hand to address the public.
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Pending its blessings, the articles will then move to annual town meeting for final approval. The board passed on all 28 articles unamended but some came under brief scrutiny, mostly for clarification purposes.
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Gary Munson went 2-for-3 with a triple, and the Adams Aces exploded for nine runs in the third inning en route to a 12-2, five-inning win over the Berkshire Thunder to capture the Berkshire Adult Baseball League 35-and-over division championship on Thursday night. click for more