Greenfield ZBA grants special permit for marijuana dispensary on Bank Row

  • In a 4-1 vote Thursday, Greenfield’s Zoning Board of Appeals approved a special permit with conditions for an adult-use marijuana dispensary at 49 Bank Row, the former location of Karen’s Dance Studio. Staff Photo/MARY BYRNE

Staff Writer
Published: 11/19/2021 1:46:51 PM

GREENFIELD — In a 4-1 vote Thursday, the Zoning Board of Appeals approved a special permit with conditions for an adult-use marijuana dispensary on Bank Row.

Smokey Leaf LLC, owned by Aman Kaur, was granted a special permit at 49 Bank Row, the former location of Karen’s Dance Studio, on the following conditions: the off-street parking is redesigned to meet design standards of the Department of Public Works; delivery vehicles are limited to box trucks or smaller, and tractor trailers are prohibited; three full-size copies of revised plans are submitted to the Department of Planning and Development within 30 days of approval; signs shall conform to Greenfield and Cannabis Control Commission regulations; and hours of operation will be Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

“This is a phenomenal location,” said Brent White, owner of White Engineering in Pittsfield. “It’s great in term of size, in terms of parking. … (Kaur) is looking to replicate the success of her existing store.”

White explained to board members Thursday evening that the shop’s main customer entrance would be on Olive Street and the exit on Bank Row, and parking would be encouraged at the parking garage on Olive Street.

“We’ve received an endorsement of our security plan from the chief of police,” he said, noting he wasn’t aware of negative feedback from other municipal officials.

There was some debate over whether the establishment met the requisite amount of distance from schools, given its proximity to Franklin County’s YMCA on Main Street, which runs a preschool program.

“When this was adopted, a map was created to show buffers from all K-12 schools, and the YMCA is not on the list,” said Planning and Development Director Eric Twarog. “So it’s not on the map as a school.”

After some discussion, prompted by member Walter Boyd, Twarog explained the Board of Health requires marijuana businesses to be at least 500 feet from a school.

“It’s close; it’s real close,” Boyd said. “We ought to know that when we’re reviewing this. ... That’s my point.”

ZBA Chair Mark Maloney noted the Board of Health endorsed the proposal, with no issues or concerns.

“The regulations were for K-12 schools. The (YMCA) on Main advertises it and describes itself as a preschool,” White added. “So it doesn’t seem it would fall in that threshold even if it was close to the line.”

He also said the Cannabis Control Commission and state cannabis laws no longer restrict operation within 500 feet of where children congregate.

ZBA member Jim Winn, the only board member to vote against the special permit, said his main concern was potential traffic congestion on Bank Row.

James McMahon, an attorney representing Kaur, responded that cannabis retail shops tend to see roughly 150 customers per day, averaging to the low double-digits per hour.

“Luckily, the novelty of cannabis shops has worn off, and while we hope to be as successful as we can, the lines around the block are pretty much a thing of the past,” McMahon explained.

Board members also addressed a letter from the Commission on Disability Access, which expressed concerns relating to the business’ original parking plans. However, Twarog explained that the comments no longer apply given that the parking plans changed and there would no longer be on-site parking.

Smokey Leaf LLC will now need Cannabis Control Commission approval before opening, Kaur said. The Bank Row building must also undergo renovations.

Reporter Mary Byrne can be reached at mbyrne@recorder.com or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne


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