Whately Planning Board takes no stance on marijuana company’s zoning proposal

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Published: 5/14/2023 4:45:38 PM

WHATELY — The Planning Board opted to take no stance on a limited marijuana manufacturing land-use bylaw proposed by Debilitating Medical Condition Treatment Centers (DMCTC), a marijuana cultivator, manufacturer and soon-to-be retailer in town.

The business’ bylaw, which will come before voters at May 23’s Annual Town Meeting, proposes the creation of a “(Limited) Marijuana Product Manufacturer” land use to allow production of marijuana products without the use of hazardous materials.

Chris Chamberland, a civil engineer with Berkshire Design Group who presented the bylaw on DMCTC’s behalf, explained the land use would be allowed by special permit in the Commercial, Commercial/Industrial and Industrial zones, and would create additional economic opportunities for businesses in town.

“This is a way these sort of low-barrier-to-entry commercial activities around this industry can be potentially added on to existing commercial spaces,” Chamberland said. “This is, we feel, a relatively modest change to zoning that proposes an increase to business and economic activities that will be available in the commercial zone.”

DMCTC operates a cultivation and manufacturing facility on River Road and is in the process of opening a retail dispensary at the former Sugarloaf Shoppes at the intersection of Routes 5, 10 and 116. Chamberland said DMCTC and any other business looking to get into small-scale marijuana processing could take advantage of the proposed changes.

Activities that would be allowed if approved would include production of marijuana-infused food products, extraction of marijuana oils and concentrate through non-hazardous and non-flammable materials, and physical production of finished products. Any use of propane, butane ethanol or carbon dioxide would be prohibited, alongside any processes regulated by the National Fire Protection Association Fire Code.

Chamberland said an example of how the land-use bylaw could be used would be if a company with a commercial kitchen wanted to bake and sell marijuana edibles — that production, however, would have to be in a different area than regular production activities.

In a letter to the Planning Board, DMCTC Director Jared Glanz-Berger said the proposed change is “intended to increase business opportunities” in town by allowing businesses to add “small-scale, high-value operations that can create new revenues and new jobs in Whately.”

The Planning Board briefly discussed the proposed changes Wednesday evening and shared a document that will be sent to the Selectboard outlining the pros and cons of the change.

The board states the requirement of a special permit will ensure businesses fit Whately’s character and would create low-traffic and low-demand jobs. On the other hand, the board states the town is in need of more businesses with a retail focus, rather than industrial, and the proposed changes are “basically accommodation zoning that will initially benefit only the proponent, although others may utilize it in the future.”

Ultimately, the Planning Board chose to not take a stance either for or against the proposed changes before sending them to the Selectboard, which will determine its own stance. Regardless of either board’s recommendation, the proposal will come before voters at Annual Town Meeting on May 23.

Chris Larabee can be reached
at clarabee@recorder.com or

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