Rochester’s Planning Board Tuesday came a step closer to approving the Special Permit and Site Plan Review application for the commercial building at 621 County Road that will include the recreational marijuana retail store Megan’s Organic Market, but not to the satisfaction of the petitioner’s attorney.
The Planning Board reviewed the draft decision with conditions and added a new one, that the sign clearly state it is a cannabis store. Board member Paul Carr repeated his request in a previous meeting that this condition be included to avoid a customer wrongly thinking the store is merely an organic-produce market.
The petitioner’s attorney said his client had no problem with this condition but then frowned as he asked why the Planning Board could not take an approval vote at Tuesday’s meeting.
Board Chairman Arnold Johnson answered that the panel likes to take time to review a draft decision on a Special Permit and approve it at a subsequent meeting. The board will consider approving the Special Permit for Megan’s Organic Market at its next meeting on September 26.
As discussion ended, the board asked the project’s engineering consultant, Phil Cordeiro of Allen and Major Associates, to supply a rendering of what the requested “cannabis” sign would look like at that next meeting. Cordeiro agreed to do so.
When approved, the retail recreational marijuana store will be housed in a 7,500-square-foot commercial building between two residential lots with a 24-foot-wide driveway entrance.
Traffic flow will send deliveries to the western rear of the building and be spacious enough for emergency vehicle access as well. Water will come from a tie-in to the Town of Wareham supply. Vegetative setbacks of 20 feet will be built between the residences, as well as a 6-foot-high fence on one side. Lighting will have “zero spillage” onto other properties and will be controlled by motion sensors.
Next, the Planning Board approved another continuance, until October 10, for the Site Plan Review application for a tree and perennials nursery on 2.5 acres at 157 Vaughan Hill Road, filed by Jennifer and Chuck Anderson of Tree Talk Natives, LLC.
Johnson noted the tree farm is up and running, but the owners are only advertising to go to customers for a “consult” on their tree needs, which is perfectly legal. He added the board may need to deny the operation a permit if the petitioners have made no progress with submitting specific plans by October 10.
The petitioners have had the application for the site for almost a year and are only being asked for plans for the site’s parking area. “It’s a safety issue,” Johnson said. “The parking lot needs to be protected from sinking.”
In other action, the Planning Board signed the Certificate of Compliance for the solar project at 0 Walnut Plain Road and Old Middleboro Road and reviewed proposed zoning bylaw changes.
Johnson said the changes will only need to be ready for the Spring 2024 Annual Town Meeting. Proposals discussed by the board and Building Commissioner Paul Boucher Tuesday night included tweaking the language for back-lot residential additions, site-plan review and accessory apartments. A proposed back-lot residential-housing use shall be on property owned by the petitioner for at least five years prior to the application.
An approved site plan is valid only if signed by Planning Board members. Accessory apartment zoning will have a new set of specific standards.
The Rochester Planning Board’s next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, September 26, at 7:00 pm at Town Hall, 1 Constitution Way.
Rochester Planning Board
By Michael J. DeCicco