Marijuana Public Hearing Ignites Little Interest

On November 5, the Mattapoisett Planning Board had a new member – for one night only. Boy Scout Andrew Poulin of Mattapoisett Troop 53 sat with the Planning Board members as he observed local government at work. Poulin is working on his Communications Merit Badge – one of many steps he plans to complete on his way to achieving Eagle.

After Poulin’s introduction, it was down to business as the Planning Board held a final public hearing to give residents ample opportunity to ask questions or voice opinions on the issue of creating a new zoning district specifically for the sale and distribution of medical marijuana ahead of the Fall Special Town Meeting – the silence was deafening.

Chairman Tom Tucker read the public notice, opening the hearing for an article to go before Town Meeting that creates a new zoning bylaw. The article titled “Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers Zoning Bylaw” was explained by board member Janice Robbins who gave a brief overview of the process employed by a subcommittee charged with the responsibility of drafting the new zoning bylaw. The subcommittee was comprised of personnel from the police and fire departments, two business owners, town counsel, and Robbins representing the Planning Board.

“The purpose of establishing a Medical Marijuana Overlay District (Section 5.11) is to regulate the use. Medical marijuana is treated differently then recreational marijuana,” Robbins said. The approach was to regulate where it could be sold. “We thought we’d be better off to implement controls for the interest of the town,” said Robbins.

Robbins said the committee drafted the zoning bylaw language under the guidance of town counsel and that the purpose of the new bylaw was not to impose additional regulations on it since the state has that authority, but to regulate where in the community it could be located within the confines of state regulations. She said that owners of medical marijuana outlets had to enter into an agreement with the state and the town, but that licenses are issued by the state.“

Tucker offered this perspective: “If we did nothing, they could be in any General Business District location.”

Robbins added, “Our General Business District along Route 6 is mixed with residential zoning. To avoid that, we picked the Limited Industrial District.”

Tucker, who over several public hearings on the topic urged residents to participate in debate and discussion prior to the Special Town Meeting, said again, “We hope this doesn’t get debated on Town Meeting floor.”

Tucker opened the hearing to public comment. There was none. The only question posed was an inquiry on where exactly the Limited Industrial District is located. After explaining that the location was, in fact, along Industrial Drive off North Street, there were no other questions.

The public hearing was closed and the Planning Board members unanimously voted to send the article to the selectmen for inclusion on the warrant.

Earlier in the evening, a Form A Approval Not Required application from Chase Canopy to subdivide a residential lot from a business lot located at 117 Fairhaven Road was approved as presented.

A public hearing for a Form C Definitive Subdivision Plan for Snow Fields Estates submitted by Dennis Arsenault was granted a 90-day extension and a continuation until November 19 to give the applicant more time to process peer review documents.

Also continued to November 19 was a public hearing for another Form C Definitive Subdivision Plan for Eldridge Estates, 8-8R Prospect Road, submitted by Scott Snow. Planning Board Administrator Mary Crain said the applicant would be submitting an entirely new plan that included a change from the original two-lot concept to a three- or four-lot plan.

The Southeastern Regional Planning and Economic Development District (SRPEDD), which has been studying the Route 6 corridor and gathering surveys for several months, will hold two public meetings, Robbins shared. The meetings will give SRPEDD the opportunity to hear residents’ concerns and help to craft future use for the state roadway. Robbins, the Planning Board’s representative to SRPEDD, said the agency is aggressively seeking input from the public in an effort to create a list of recommendations for state review. The project includes the towns of Fairhaven, Mattapoisett, Marion, and Wareham, she said. The public can access the survey at or pick up a paper survey at Town Hall. The meetings will take place on Thursday, November 8, at 6:30 pm in the Wareham Town Hall, and again on Wednesday, November 14, at 6:30 pm at Old Rochester Regional High School.

The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Planning Board is scheduled for November 19 at 7:00 pm in the Town Hall conference room.

Mattapoisett Planning Board

By Marilou Newell

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