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Adams to Amend Marijuana Bylaws

By Jack Guerino
iBerkshires Staff
12:54AM / Monday, April 05, 2021
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ADAMS, Mass. — The town will revisit its marijuana bylaws to expand usage in the Industrial Park.
 
During a workshop meeting Wednesday, the Selectmen agreed to begin the process of amending the town's marijuana bylaws to accommodate unallowed uses in the park.
 
"I think the Planning Board thought this was a good first effort, and they wanted to have some experience with the marijuana business in the community," Donna Cesan, of Community Development, said, in reference to the original bylaws passed in 2018. "There was always an interest in going back to tweak them to make them better over time."
 
Currently, only cannabis lab testing is allowed in the Industrial Park but over the years there has been interest from various businesses to start cultivation and manufacturing operations there.
 
"One thing that has come to light is that there is an interest from the marijuana industry locating in Adams," Town Administrator Jay Green said. 
 
Most recently, the Zoning Board of Appeals made way for a retail and cultivation business to operate out of the former Burke Construction property at the entrance to the park.
 
Green said this hasn't been the only request, and in 2020 the town turned away two or three businesses.
 
Cesan said this goes back even further, and over the past few years the town consistently had to pass on three to five proposed establishments in the Industrial Park a year.
 
Cesan said she thought there was still a need to have limitations -- retail wasn't the best fit while other uses seemed to be right in line with other businesses already in the park.  
 
Selectman Rick Blanchard agreed and felt retail would introduce unneeded traffic issues in the park.
 
"I think retail would be a terrible idea," he said.
 
The Selectmen felt it was worth taking another look at the bylaws. The Planning Board would be charged with makign these draft changes.
 
"This is a blooming industry," Selectman Joseph Nowak said. "There is a lot of profit to be made."
 
Town meeting will ultimately vote on any bylaw changes.
 
In other business, Cesan updated the board on 26 Commercial St. that the town plans to demolish to make way for more parking at Hoosac Valley Elementary School.
 
"We feel like we have enough information to present this to you this evening ... and to see if you want to proceed to the next steps," Cesan said. 
 
Town meeting allocated funds last year to acquire the long-vacant gas station. 
 
The town will have to remove three 10,000 gallon tanks from the property. Cesan said there is a fourth 1,000 tank that also has to go. This is estimated to cost $65,700.
 
The town then has to have the soil tested. This is slated to cost $12,000.
 
Including the demolition, the entire project should cost between $100,000 and $120,000. Cesan said the town is tapping Brownfield Funds to help along the project, but she plans to work with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to see if they would be willing to share in some of the costs.
 
Cesan said she hopes to have the project complete by September.
 
"It is still a challenge at this point, and we don't know if we will be able to make it," she said. "But that is what we are working toward."
 
The Selectmen also received a presentation on the Local Rapid Recovery Planning Grant from the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development recently awarded to Downtown Adams. The town and ProAdams were also part of the grant process.
 
Berkshire Regional Planning Commission will utilize the $60,000 grant to develop a report identifying several projects that can respond to the effects of COVID-19 on the local community and business.
 
Mark Malloy, of BRPC, was present at the meeting and outlined the timeline of the process.
 
He said BRPC looks to collect data and hold public meetings to generate a list of ten short-term actionable items. He said the process could give way to state funding to address the projects.
 
"There is no money right yet, but they hope as [the state] pulls together this plan they can create funding for local communities," he said.
 
He said the project has a quick turnaround, and they hope to complete the report within six months.
 
Nowak said he was happy the town received the grant but hopes something actually comes of it.
 
"I hope this is beneficial and a lot of the plans we have had have just gone by the wayside," Nowak said. "Recommendations are good, but if you don't have the finances to carry them out they are just words without substance. I just hope something can come about it 
 
Lastly, Green presented the proposed $16,522,933 fiscal 2022 budget to the full board.
 
Previously only the budget subcommittee saw the budget that, once approved by the Selectmen, will go to the Finance Committee.

 


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