Greenfield Planning Board begins discussions on marijuana zoning changes

  • AP FILE PHOTO/Marina Riker AP FILE PHOTO/Marina Riker

Staff Writer
Published: 8/5/2022 3:49:20 PM
Modified: 8/5/2022 3:46:14 PM

GREENFIELD — Conversations began this week at the Planning Board level concerning how the city might seek to amend zoning ordinances related to outdoor marijuana cultivation facilities.

These conversations, which will remain on the Planning Board agenda after Thursday evening’s discussion, follow City Council’s approval last month to amend zoning bylaws to reimpose the Tier 1 limit on outdoor cannabis cultivation. The unanimous vote reimposes a limit of 5,000 square feet of canopy, with a limit of three Tier 1 operations allowed on any given parcel.

At the John Zon Community Center on Thursday, Planning Board Chair Charles Roberts relayed a comprehensive list of topics or issues that had been raised in recent months, particularly in light of an outdoor cultivation project proposed at 446 Country Club Road. Some of those topics included setbacks from residential property lines, roads or schools; height and composition of fencing; odor mitigation strategies; waste disposal; and water consumption.

“A number of these issues are addressed naturally in the special permitting process,” Roberts noted.

As the Planning Board began sorting through the items to be addressed, member George Touloumtzis suggested reviewing the Tier 11 cultivation site proposed for Leyden Road as an example of a plan that appears to work and did not receive significant pushback from the community. As a Tier 11 outdoor cultivation site, he clarified, it has been grandfathered into the zoning ordinances that existed before City Council reimposed the Tier 1 limit.

“I think it’s a good place to start … to refine the ordinance,” he said.

Water consumption, however, was identified as a significant item of interest between board members, following Public Works Director Marlo Warner II’s update on city-wide water usage. He explained the city is registered for drawing 2.1 million gallons of water per day, on average.

“As we go forward, what will happen if we exceed that 2.1 million is it’ll become permitted by the (Department of Environmental Protection),” Warner said. “When it’s a permit … if you exceed your daily withdrawal, you have to put bans out there.”

Typically, the city averages between 1.7 million gallons and 1.9 million gallons per day, he said.

“I’m not extremely concerned about a ceiling now,” Warner told Planning Board members, noting this year is “an anomaly” given the Leyden Glen Reservoir is offline for the dredging process. “But where are we going to be five years from?”

While Warner said he didn’t know the math on water use for marijuana cultivation, it was a conversation he wanted to bring to the Planning Board as members consider changes to the zoning bylaws. In particular, he advised the board look into the water consumption typical for indoor versus outdoor grow facilities.

“There has to be data compiled,” Touloumtzis said. Planning Board member Amy McMahon, who agreed water consumption is an important topic to be considered, offered to reach out to the Franklin Regional Council of Governments (FRCOG) for data on water consumption by existing cultivation sites.

Touloumtzis added that it may be worth visiting a few operating sites, as the Leyden Road site isn’t fully operational. He noted examples in Whately and Hatfield.

While more research is done on water consumption, board members seemed to agree on Thursday that setbacks, particularly as they relate to tier size, are “really key.” The board plans to discuss setbacks further at its next meeting on Thursday, Aug. 18.

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


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