The Recorder – Greenfield Planning Board to consider ANR plan for Country Club Road property

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GREENFIELD — An Approval Not Required (ANR) plan for the roughly 20-acre parcel at 446 Country Club Road — where three groups have signed host community agreements to pursue separate licenses for outdoor marijuana cultivation sites — is expected to appear before the Planning Board for endorsement Thursday night.

An ANR allows the owner of land on a public road to subdivide the property without going through the subdivision process, explained Planning and Development Director Eric Twarog.

“We’re the only state in the union that has it,” he said.

Twarog said there are two criteria that must be met for the Planning Board to endorse an ANR. First, it must meet the frontage requirements of the district in which it is located — in this case, the rural/residential zoning district — and second, practical access requirements must be met.

“People file ANR plans for many reasons, but when you do file an ANR, it puts a three-year zoning freeze on the property,” Twarog explained.

In other words, if zoning use changes anytime within three years from when the ANR plan was filed, on April 22, it’s grandfathered into the zoning ordinances that existed at that time.

“It’s not unusual,” said former Mayor William Martin, who is acting as a consultant to the three LLCs interested in the location for marijuana cultivation. “In this case, there’s already quite an investment in the property. The idea that zoning (use) would change in such a manner that the investors couldn’t do what they planned to do, that was allowed by special permit anyway, wouldn’t be fair, so the ANR will assist in supporting the current project.”

According to the three host community agreements filed with the city, each entity is seeking to obtain a Tier 11 outdoor cultivation license from the state Cannabis Control Commission (CCC). Tier 11 allows for grow sites with up to 100,000 square feet of canopy, which is the largest size possible for a cultivation site in Massachusetts, according to the CCC. If approved, up to 300,000 square feet of canopy will be allowed on the Country Club Road parcel.

“This is the first of that type of scenario where there’s three LLCs in the same property trying to do something,” Twarog said, noting that ultimately, final approval comes from the CCC. “If (CCC) says three separate LLCs on a property is OK, then how can we supersede the state?”

Martin said he has been working with the investors for the last 14 months to find a suitable piece of land in western Massachusetts.

“I was able to find a piece of land in Greenfield,” he said. “It’s a benefit … to provide some new revenue, other than taxpayer money, to the city.”

At a recent City Council meeting, however, several residents spoke in opposition to the project, including resident Al Collins, who lives on Country Club Road.

“We have several issues,” he said. “If the state requires security fencing with barbed wire at the top, cameras, the whole bit, pretty much what you’d see at a prison … it’s not exactly the residential look.”

Collins said there are about 135 homes in that neighborhood, and argued that those properties will “take a hit” if the project goes through as proposed. Other residents spoke to the odor and traffic the project would create.

In response to a related petition, which seeks to place a moratorium on any outdoor cultivation approvals until property line setbacks are established, a joint public hearing by the Economic Development Committee and the Planning Board is set for Tuesday, May 10, at 6 p.m. At-Large Councilor Christine Forgey told councilors at the Committee Chairs meeting Tuesday evening that more than 500 residents have signed the petition.

Martin acknowledged the potential plans have been the subject of controversy in recent months. He said the residents’ petition was the result of people being “slightly misinformed.”

“We did not respond,” he said.

Martin said the city has been accused of being “anti-business,” and should focus on adapting to the way business changes. He described the transformation, with an emphasis on Main Street, from retail to social service, health and financial institutions.

“The same thing happens in farming areas,” he said. “The Massachusetts Department of Agriculture recognizes the revenue strains placed on farms over the years by regulations, and products from other countries, other states … so they’ve added as farming — as agriculture — marijuana and hemp, because that’s a change.”

Martin noted that no letters of intent or applications have been filed with the city, though the respective groups — Country Club Ventures, Fibonacci Farms and Greenfield Farma — are in the process of doing that now. The ANR was filed by landowner Peter Kuzmeskus and the lessees of the property.

Planning Board Chair Charles Roberts said as long as the plan meets the two requirements for an ANR, the Planning Board “has no choice” but to endorse it.

“We’re not really approving it. Technically, we’re endorsing it,” Roberts clarified. “We look for things like frontage and site access … and as long as it meets those, we basically have to endorse it.”

The meeting, which will take place at 6 p.m. on Thursday, can be accessed via Webex at

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

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