Wendell anticipates AG approval of new marijuana bylaw

Staff Writer
Published: 10/16/2020 3:32:01 PM

WENDELL — The state Attorney General’s Office is expected to certify a Special Town Meeting warrant article Wendell voters adopted to lay ground rules for anyone interested in starting a marijuana operation in town.

Residents voted unanimously a few weeks ago in favor of a bylaw that sets parameters for any marijuana establishment and provides definitions for industry terms. Several restrictions and definitions became state statute after Massachusetts voters opted on Nov. 8, 2016, to legalize recreational adult use of marijuana, plus the growing and selling of pot and related products. However, Planning Board Clerk Nan Riebschlaeger said the town’s special permit process would not be sufficient in protecting neighbors and abutters while also accommodating marijuana companies. She previously said companies have approached Wendell within the past six months.

The state Attorney General’s Office is expected to issue its decision by Nov. 15.

This week, Riebschlaeger said the bylaw makes it clear to marijuana companies what is expected of them.

“I think it makes it so that when somebody comes in with a plan to do … growing, we have things in place to make it easier for neighbors,” she explained.

The bylaw defines a marijuana establishment as “a marijuana cultivator, craft marijuana cooperative, marijuana product manufacturer, independent testing laboratory, marijuana research facility, marijuana transporter or any type of licensed marijuana-related business, except a medical marijuana treatment center.” Marijuana establishments cannot be located with 250 feet of any existing public or private school that provides education in kindergarten or any of grades one through 12. This setback includes the grounds on which the school is located.

Marijuana establishments also cannot be within 100 feet of any “existing residential use if there is a closed loop water system for the establishment’s operations or not within 250 feet from any existing residential use if there is no closed water loop for the establishment’s operations.” The distance will be measured in a straight line, without regard to intervening structures, from the closest property line of the residential property to the marijuana establishment or its parking lot.

Outdoor cultivation will require setbacks — 300 feet on all sides and a 100-foot vegetative buffer made up of “a mix of upper story and lower story evergreens and deciduous plants to mitigate any odors created from cultivation.” Plants must be approved by the Wendell Planning Board.

Christopher Parker, chair of the Planning Board, said he believes the bylaw represents what the town wants in terms of incorporating some protections for the community and neighbors.

“I’m satisfied,” he said. “I think it’s the right thing.”

The bylaw requires security cameras covering external areas, with the ability to function with minimum to no lighting at night. These lights must be shielded and directed at a downward angle. External lighting should be minimized and consistent with public safety requirements and hours of operation. The internal lighting of greenhouses and the lights for outdoor cultivation must be screened from abutters after sunset, and no marijuana establishment will be allowed to operate between 7 p.m. and 8 a.m.

No more than four marijuana retailers, which the bylaw does not include under its definition of marijuana establishments, will be permitted to operate in Wendell.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.




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