Note: The public attendees sheet that is referenced as attached is available in the Town Clerk’s office.
MINUTES June 3, 2019
Meeting held at Otis Town Hall
1 North Main Road, Otis, MA
7:06 pm – 9:53 pm
ZBA Members: (Present) Therese Gould, Geoffrey Geane, Member Ernst, James Kauffman, Donna Terrill, RoseAnn DeRupo
ZBA Members: (Absent) Sara Skibski
ZBA Clerk: Katherine Couch
Public Attendees: See attached attendance sign in sheet – 3 pages
Meeting convened at 7:06 pm
Chairperson Terry Gould opened the meeting at 7:06 pm. Introductions of the board members were made. There is a quorum; there are five voting members and one alternate present tonight.
Agenda item #1 – To hear and act upon the application of D&J Development LLC for a Zoning By-Law Variance under 3.3.4 of the Otis Zoning by-laws to demolish and construct a non-conforming building, increasing the non- conformity. The proposed setbacks are approximately 2.0’ on the western side setback, 7.0’on the eastern side setback, 4.0’ on the southern rear setback, and 2.0’ northern frontage. This is a continuation of the April 1, 2019 meeting.
Chairperson Gould read the public notice in to the record. Chairperson Gould then read a letter from SK Designs on behalf of D&J Development requesting to withdraw the variance application, without prejudice, for the property located at Reservoir Rd., Map 16B, Lot 3.The letter will be part of the record and will be placed in the file.
Jim Kauffman made the motion to grant the request of D&J Development to withdraw the variance application. Member DeRupo seconded the motion. Chairperson Gould and Donna voted in the affirmative to allow the withdrawal of the variance application of D&J Development. Member Ernst and Geoff Geane abstained from the vote due to the fact they were not at the first hearing on March 3, 2019.
Agenda item #2& #3
#2. To hear and act upon the application Turning Leaf Centers, LLC for a Zoning By-Law Special Permit under Sec. 3.1.3 and 9.3 of the Otis Zoning by-laws as to erect and operate a Marijuana Cultivation and Marijuana Product Manufacturer facility at 1570 North Main Road, Otis, MA.
#3. To hear and act upon the application Turning Leaf Centers, LLC for a Zoning By-Law Special Permit under Sec. 3.1.3 and 9.3 of the Otis Zoning by-laws as to erect and operate a Marijuana Retailer and a Marijuana Dispensary at 1570 North Main Road, Otis, MA.
Introductions were made of the board members. There are five members and one alternate member present. There is a quorum.
Chairperson Gould gave an overview of the how the meeting is run. She reminded everyone that the board is discussing and deliberating only on this application; any questions regarding conservation must be asked to the Conservation Commission at their hearing. The same applies to questions for the Board of Health, Planning Board, etc.
Chairperson Gould read the public notice in to the record. Kathy Couch, clerk, stated as of 6:45 pm tonight there were no letters, email, or phone messages regarding this application. On May 16, 2019 all abutters within 300’ were sent a copy of the public notice. There were no letters returned undeliverable. The public notice ran in The Berkshire Eagle on Monday, May 20 th and Monday, May 27th. There have been a total of seven letters received in support of the application. The board members have received a copy of each of the letters. In order to save time Kathy would like to place the letters in the hearing file without out being individually read. Chairperson Gould felt that it wasn’t necessary for each letter to be read out loud; the letters should be placed the file. Chairperson Gould asked the board for their input. Member Ernst asked if any of letters were from abutters. Kathy stated that she did not verify the addresses or names of the people that sent the letters of support. Chairperson Gould asked for a motion to not read each letter into the record; just place them in the file. Geoff Geane made the motion, Jim Kauffmann seconded the motion. Donna Terrill, Member DeRupo, Chairperson Gould and Member Ernst voted in the affirmative.
Attorney Charles Ferris gave the board a letter with signatures and addresses in support of the application. He stated that there were about a hundred signatures of residents on it. The letter will be placed in to the applicant’s file as part of the record.
Atty. Charles Ferris introduced himself. He is representing Turning Leaf Centers Otis, LLC. The group brings a broad scope of specialties to the project. The TLCO, LLC members have experience in has health care, law enforcement, real estate, marijuana cultivation, architecture, and more. This is the type of investment helps to support what will be a vertically integrated project. The applicant will have growth and cultivation activity, manufacturing activities, extraction of oils, and retail sales. He thinks that it is good for the town that the applicant has a vertical integration plan due to the fact as the markets mature they will be a “shake out” of businesses. Retail stores that don’t have direct access of product could find themselves open with no product on their shelves. This is a more costly way of doing business than just opening a 2,000 sq. ft. retail shop. This plan is much more likely to succeed.
There are two special permits in front of the board and Atty. Ferris would like to have the board consider both applications at the same time as information will be presented that is pertinent to both projects at once.
The first permit would allow the applicant to cultivate indoors and also extracting the oils from the agricultural botanical business. The town’s counsel had suggested that the applicant combine them into one application.
This is a light industrial application and agricultural use. Light Industrial is allowed under the current Zoning bylaw 3.1.3; the use regulations.
The second permit that they are seeking approval for is general purpose retail permit. This would cover the adult sales to the general public and the medical clientele.
The premise is on a 23.7 acre parcel at Otis Poultry Farm. Audio Store is on one acre and is not involved in this project. There are two lots are a total of 22.7 acres. These parcels will be affected by th project. The septic system for the parcels is across the street. The septic will be reviewed by the Board of Health, not this board.
The parcels contain a general store, barn buildings and “hen houses”. The premise itself is about 1100’ long by 770’ wide.
Atty. Ferris stated criteria for the Zoning Board to grant a special permit is relatively straight forward. The board needs to prove that the adverse impact of the proposed project does not outweigh the benefits to the community and town.
The bylaws list six criteria that need to be met to approve the special permit.
- Social, economic or community needs which are served by the proposal;
- Traffic flow and safety, including parking and loading;
- Adequacy of utilities and other public services;
- Neighborhood character and social structures;
- Impacts on the natural environment;
- Potential fiscal impact, including impact on town service, tax base and employment.
After they are done presenting Atty. Ferris hopes that the applicant will have submitted enough information that the board will conclude that the benefits out way any potential adverse impact on the town or local community.
The applicant applied under bylaws as they existed at the time the applied. This was before the town meeting;
this is when the new Marijuana bylaw was adopted. The applicant believes that they meet the current existing criteria and they would like to point out that they feel that the project substantially complies with the criteria that the Planning Board enumerated when they developed the “new bylaw”. The applicant carefully considered the factors that go into running a responsible marijuana business.
The applicant can easily comply with lot size requirement; they will provide security plan and security that the MA Cannabis Control Commission requires, any landscaping that is required, odor control and parking requirements will be met. The applicant is trying their best to comply with the “heart and soul” of the new bylaw.
Atty. Ferris presented the Existing Use Plan showing the 22.7 acres with the buildings shown on it.
Brent White, White Engineering, will be presenting information on Proposed Conditions. He is very knowledgeable on the drainage, the septic, the traffic study, the storm water, and the parking; which he designed.
Next, Matt McGeorge, architect will present information about the design of the buildings. John Coslowski will be available to talk about odor control over the phone, if necessary.
Atty. Ferris went over the basics of the proposed project:
A red barn style 22,000 sq. ft. building fitting in the character of the current buildings will be built.
This building will house the 9,000 – 10,000 sq. ft. grow space and all the other compartmentalized spaces that are necessary. These areas will be used for growing, drying, cutting, packaging, administrative areas, and the mechanical rooms.
The building will also contain retail store: the interior, sales area, will not be visible from the outside.
Once the building is completed and business is up and running; then two more identical buildings will be constructed to expand the business. It will house considerable more grow space. At the completion of the building the applicants should have a minimum 33,000 sq. ft. cultivation space. Also it could be higher if the applicant does use tiered growing areas.
The project will have considerable setbacks163’ from the road, 266’ to the back, 180’ “the other way”, and 890’ on the southern setback. There is no crowding in the area.
Impact on the community
- Wherever possible local contractors will be used wherever possible. This would be in the construction field; builders, heating/cooling, plumbing, electricians.
- They will create 30-46 full time jobs with preference to Otis applicants. If there are no qualified candidates they will reach out of the area. These jobs will be for managerial, administration, retail, security, maintenance positions. Growth and cultivation skills will be taught.
Year 1 Year 2 Year 3
Projected sales in Millions 9.1 10.92 14.50
Projected Revenue to the Town $420,000 $504,000 $672,000
These projections could increase or decrease based on the market.
Atty. Ferris stated the application describes production methods, mechanical systems and odor control. The production is done outside of the public’s view. It is compartmentalized; so that any activity that causes don not share hallways or open space. The main mechanical systems that are used are heating and cooling and fans. There is some machinery that is used to extract oils. No noise, vibrations or smoke are created The process is done safely and securely. Before the doors are opened on the business the applicant must comply with all laws: building code, fire code etc. The light industrial aspect of this business is no different for the businesses that have been extracting oils for years.
There will be no “smoke stacks” coming out of the buildings The applicant feels that the type of machinery used such as fans, heating and cooling, and extraction falls under light industrial use in the Town of Otis bylaws.
The applicant will comply with all the security that the Cannabis Control Commission requires. There will be perimeter fencing and lighting.
They will comply with all state laws. There are several pages in the application that address the security. Atty. Ferris gave some highlights:
- Security director with 5- 6 security guards. There will be human security at all times.
- Video monitoring at all times. Camera will be placed around not just at the front door, all windows, in certain rooms.
- There will be controlled access throughout the building. The access could be granted through passcodes/words, pass cards, bio identification; fingerprints.
- There will be direct connections with police and fire.
- There will be fail safe provisions so if a system goes down a text message will sent out.
- There will be backup generators.
Atty. Ferris stated that the odor control will follow the “new, proposed bylaw” using best available technology. Currently, that is carbon filtration. None of the rooms will share air. All of these precautions will help minimize the escape of odors.
There are very few houses in the area; he would classify it as rural, lightly inhabited area of the town. The project is 450 feet from the nearest house. The applicant expects that the nearest door to any abutter will be over
500 feet away. There is a minimal impact on natural resources. The applicant believes that this is the best use for the property.
Atty. Ferris brought up that they did not put into the application the requested hours for the retail operation.
Currently, under “new proposed bylaw” hours that a business should maintain are 9 am – 7 pm. There are stores in the Berkshire that have similar hours. Theory Wellness in Great Barrington has extended hours on the weekends. The applicant is requesting to maintain their hours as 9:00 am – 8:00 pm, Monday- Thursday, and
9:00 am – 9:00 pm Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Chairperson Gould asked if the MA Blue Laws allow them to be open until 9 pm on Sundays. It was stated that there are no longer Blue Laws. The only Blue Laws left are regarding the sale of alcohol on Sundays.
Member Ernst asked Mr. Ferris to clarify that manufacturing facility and the building that currently houses the Poultry Farm, country store, will be owned by Turning Leaf Centers, LLC. The grow facility and retail will not be using the Poultry Farm retail store for cannabis sales. Member also asked for a clarification on the cannabis that is manufactured onsite. He wanted to know if the cannabis will be used at the retail store and any that additional product will be sold to other businesses. Attorney Peter Puciloski, Lazan, Glover & Puciloski, LLC, stated that any “extra” cannabis will be sold to other cannabis sellers. Mr. Puciloski also stated the revenue from both retail sales and sales to other business will be taxed at 3%. This revenue will go to the town. Atty. Puciloski worked with the town’s counsel on the community host agreement.
Brent White, professional engineer, with White Engineering in Pittsfield, MA displayed on the map and provided details of the property.
Department of Environmental protection (DEP) has very strict requirements for new public water supplies. The applicant will be working very closely with the DEP. There will be a new closed well in the northern area of the property. There have been percolations test completed. The west side of the property will have the new septic.
PARKING AND DRIVEWAY
The parking tabulations take into account the “new proposed” bylaw. There will be two separate areas for 58 retail and 46 employees, a total of 104 spaces. There is more space available to build more spaces if necessary. There will be extra traffic control in the first few weeks. There will someone directing the clientele where to park and enter the building. MA Department of Transportation (MA DOT) must approve any driveways off the state highway. There are guidelines for sight distance when exiting or approaching the driveway. Mr. White stated that he has been in touch with the District 1 engineer. The property lies within a 45 mph speed zone. In this zone there is a safe stopping distance is 400 feet. There is minimal conflict with nearby driveways by adding this new driveway.
STORM WATER MANAGEMENT
Parking, rooves, and driveways are new impervious areas. One of the applicant’s storm water management plans is to harvest the rainwater off the buildings. By using the water generated on site the applicant will not
have to take the water out of the ground thus not burdening the well. This also reduces the runoff that will be on the property. They will work with MA DOT to manage storm water run-off.
During the construction period there will be barriers in place to protect Route 8 from any sediment erosion as well as to the north and east of the project area. There will be a separate construction access during the building process to elevate a muddy mess being put on Route 8.
Mr. White wanted to remind the board that this is a special permit; a land use permit, and it is critically important for the issuance of the special permit before they could continue with any more engineering efforts that are ultimately required to apply to the Cannabis Control Commission and operate in the town.
Member Terrill asked about the distance from the corner of the property to Werden Road. Mr. White stated that the distance is 1000 feet or more away from Werden Road. She wanted to know if this abuts the property that is owned by the builder. It was stated that there is four parcels between this property and Werden Road. Member Terrill had questions about how far into the tree line the project would extend. Mr. White stated that their goal is to preserve most of the trees only clearing for the buildings and driveway. Mr. McGeorge said that this wouldn’t exclude replanting trees and plantings. The applicant will look at preserving current, mature trees and if they can’t preserve the trees the applicant will look at replacing or replanting.
Chairperson Gould asked the board members if they had any more questions.
Member DeRupo asked about the timeline of the project. Mr. McGeorge responded process will be ongoing for a few years.
Mr. McGeorge gave the board current renderings of the project. Copies of these will be submitted in the file.
Mr. McGeorge introduced himself to the board. He is the architect of record on this project.
Mr. McGeorge gave an overview of the first building. Generally, mature flower and vegetative take up 50 to 60 % of the building. There will be a shipping and receiving area that will be bio secure, negatively pressured. This is where nutrients, planting and packing materials will be stored.
There will be a staff entrance with a bio secure staff lockers. For security purposes, the applicant will keep the public and employee entrance far away from each other as possible. This is for security purposes. To support the production of cannabis there is a significant amount of cooling that is required for the heat loads that are generated by the lighting systems. The cooling is basically 24/7; there is minimal heating required in the facility. There will be mechanical equipment pen which will be screened from view. Mainly in this area would be condensing units, equipment that you would see for air conditioning unit. Member Ernst asked if the equipment would be in from the ceiling. Mr. McGeorge replied it would be on the concrete slab or suspended from above. There is nothing unusually different about the building: it is very similar to any other agricultural processing or manufacturing facility that someone has driven by. If you take the word cannabis out of it; it really demystifies the project.
Member Ernst asked about the next buildings and wondered if they would be dedicated to growing. Mr. McGeorge stated the processing and packaging area could be put into one building. Member DeRupo stated that the entire process is cyclical. He responded that it is cyclical and there are pluses to having additional space.
The buildings will be pre-engineered metal building looking like a barn. It would be a red-in color building with white trim, screened equipment enclosures, and a shed roof to delineate the entrance and protect the customers. The proposed building height is within the building regulations they are not looking for any relief. From the road the buildings will look like three agricultural buildings. Any retaining wall will be veneered with stone.
Member DeRupo asked if all of the buildings would be erected at the same time. Mr. McGeorge didn’t think that they would all be built at the same time. The applicant would probably have to build one at a time then reinvest as the business grows. The retail part of the building will always occupy in the same place.
Member Ernst asked about the fencing near the well area. Atty. Puciloski stated the CCC requires fencing and cameras. Mr. McGeorge stated that the fencing is questionable, however if it was desired the planning board could condition that. Member thought that the fencing would be to the applicant’s advantage since the project abuts the woods.
Mr. White stated that in the application that was submitted there is a plan about the lighting. The lighting is dark sky compliant and they are on a 12’tall light pole. On the building there would be mounted, shielded dark sky compliant lights. The CCC has strict guidelines on the daytime versus night time security, the types of cameras, fencing, and gating. The CCC looks at each property specifically and make their recommendations. Chairperson Gould asked if the CCC requires certain things that the applicant must do. Mr White stated yes. Chairperson Gould asked if the CCC required fencing then could the board ask that it not be chain-link. Mr. McGeorge added that the applicant would make it appropriate for the community. Atty. Ferris stated that the applicant would need fencing for security but not to look ugly.
Member Terrill had questions on whether the lighting would affect the neighbors. Mr. White responded that there would be 12’ tall lights on poles. There is a light shield on the fixture so the illumination goes straight downward. The light will not project laterally it doesn’t shine up to the sky. This type of lighting is called “dark sky compliant”. This is completely different from lighting along the highway. Donna asked why they chose the site and placement of the buildings. Mr. Mc George replied that the buildable area of this site as of rite, without seeking relief, limits the siting of the building. Atty. Ferris stated that the current wells, public water supply, and septic system also limit the buildable area. Mr. White showed on the plans that there bordering vegetative wetlands in two areas. He also said that the topography drops off to a point that it is not possible to build. The applicant is trying to minimize visual impact on any passing traffic by having the narrower end of the building facing Route 8. In order to have a safe driveway there will be has a 2% grade coming off the highway and a
10% grade to go up the driveway to get to the flatter parking area. They need to have enough space to maneuver deliver vehicles, fire apparatus and patrons. There are conservation constraints too. That is why there is space
between the buildings, parking and waste water. There is an existing public water supply to the south and a new (future) public water supply to the north. All of these constraints created the building envelope.
Member Ernst asked about the egress in and out of the building and whether they were compliant. Mr. McGeorge said that the retail will have two egresses and the employees have their own entrance. Also in case of an emergency the worker can use the retail exits. He stated the building will be fully compliant with Mass. General Laws and the fire codes.
Member DeRupo said that the applicant stated that there would be a benefit with jobs; preferential treatment given to Otis residents. Member felt that some of these positions may be specialized. She wanted to know if training would be provided to the local applicants. Atty. Ferris said that applicant would like to train the employees to grow in their retail and security jobs. They can’t be sure if all the jobs can be filled by someone
local. There will be administrative such as a compliance officer to make sure the proper paperwork is filed. There are many jobs that will be able to be filled by the local people. Atty. Puciloski stated that they are not many people trained in this current industry. Mr. McGeorge stated that they would probably need to look outside the area for a chief cultivator. Support staff will be offered job training and potential for growth in the job. Member DeRupo then asked about the use of local contractors. Previously Atty. Ferris had stated “to the extent possible”. She wondered if local independent contractors would have a chance to work on the job. Atty. Ferris stated that the applicant has been led to believe that there are local contractors with the ability to perform the jobs that they need done.
Member DeRupo asked about security. Would there be a security guard 24 hours a day 7 days a week? Mr. McGeorge said that will addressed be in the state CCC application.
Member said it has been stated that the application it is for the cultivation and retail. Are there plans for research? Atty. Ferris stated that there would not be research a research facility. A research facility would be a separate license/permit.
Member DeRupo asked about the ownership of the current retail/restaurant establishment. Atty. Ferris stated that the building is also in the purchase and sale agreement between Pyenson and Turning Leaf Centers Otis, LLC. At this point the applicant is not sure they will run the retail store. Member said that the applicant based their sales on walk in retail sales not outside sales to other business. There was a projection of 9 million dollars in sales in the first year. How many people or sales does that represent? Atty. Ferris stated that he does not have those figures.
Chairperson Gould asked the board members if they had any more questions. There were no further questions at the time. The questions were opened to the floor/ public.
Eve Kummel asked about the transfer from building to building. Mr. McGeorge stated if there should be a need to transfer anything between the buildings there would be an indoor cooridor.
Richard Moss stated that the applicant presented a great business model and didn’t leave any stone unturned. He wanted to know the gross revenue by the third year. Atty. Ferris stated they were projecting around 14 million dollars. Mr. Moss wanted to do some
simple math….if you took the 14 million and took a $100 person that would be 140,000 people per year coming to Otis. If you divided that by 12 that would be approximately 12,000 people per month coming to Otis. What does the applicant expect the cultural impact to be if you basically have the population of Pittsfield coming to
Otis over the course of three to four months? Atty. Ferris said it would be spread out over a long period. You only experience customers on an hour to hour, or day to day basis not all at once. Lynn Pyenson said the Town of Otis has about 1,200 year round residents and 25,000 summer residents; the town survived. Chairperson Gould agreed that the town even thrived.
Wally Terrill, Werden Road resident, stated that he is not a direct abutter but ½ mile from the property What is the recourse on the odor? What if two years from now he can’t sit on his deck; what is the recourse? Chairperson Gould stated that odor control is a major concern. She stated that the special permit has been applied for under “Light Industrial Use”. This is defined in the zoning bylaws as:
“LIGHT INDUSTRIAL USE: Industrial use involving no emission or discharge of fumes, vapor, gas, smoke, dust, dirt, odor, chemical effluent, noise or vibration, or duly increased rise from fire or explosion, or element dangerous or injurious to the health or safety of the public.”
If there is a complaint registered to the Zoning Enforcement Officer, which is the Larry Gould, also the Building Inspector, then it would start the process. The applicant would have a certain timeline to fix the problem along with fines.
Sally Laufer asked that since they are growing the plants not burning the plants what process create the odor? She remembers the days when there were 25,000 chickens living at the farm.
Atty. Ferris stated that the odor would be contained as much as possible inside the building and would not go outside. Mr. McGeorge said that to answer the question more directly, some people like the smell of basil, lavender or marijuana plants. The volume of the oily compounds coming off the plant is what is noxious to some people, which is why there are odor controls in place. Odor is part of the plant; not from a process.
Member Ernst had questions about the security monitoring of the parking lot. Atty. Ferris said that the CCC will tell the applicant where to place the monitors. Member’s concerns are not about the cameras more about the patrons and parking their cars. Member is concerned about people parking on Route 8 and in the driveway. Atty. Ferris stated that Theory Wellness in Great Barrington has only 15-20 parking spaces. The proposed project will have 104 parking spaces with 25 of them been reserved for the employees. There will be a lot of open spaces. Due to the size of the property more parking can be built. The applicant didn’t want to overbuild the site with parking that may not be utilized. Member Ernst requested there to be security people in the parking lot. Atty. Ferris stated that the board can condition that there be a parking patrol officer when open but not all the time. It would be to the “extent necessary” to maintain parking security. Mr. White stated that parking on the state highway (Route 8) would be monitored by the MA DOT, State Troopers, and the Otis Police Department and feels that on street parking would almost immediately be dispersed. Mr. McGeorge stated parking is based on ordinance and precedence. Atty. Ferris feels that the applicant planned for extra parking if needed. Atty. Ferris stated that the applicants have learned from the experiences of the other cannabis establishments.
Hal Korbin, Planning Board member, On Permit #1 the applicant is specifically states the exemption from the agricultural Zoning Act. Atty. Ferris stated that the town’s counsel said it doesn’t apply to this application. Chairperson Gould stated that the application is being applied for under “Light Industrial Use”.
Charles Schwartz asked what points of identity are retained, if any, for any of the customers in a database or any other format. Atty. Puciloski stated at this point there will only be cash transactions because of the federal regulations that prohibit banks from getting into the cannabis business. The CCC requires the name of the buyer and seller, the amount and variety sold for each transaction. That information then goes to the CCC.
Member DeRupo had a question on the retail end; the application stated that there would be triple identification so that minors could not enter. Can anyone just walk in through the door? Is there someone at the door? Mr. McGeorge stated there would be a secure check in. These are called a “man trap”. The buyer would be buzzed into a secured vestibule, the ID would be checked, and then they would be buzzed into the facility itself. What is the triple ID that is mentioned in the application Atty. Puciloski stated that you would need three forms of ID two which are photos.
Chairperson Gould asked if there were any more questions from the public. Chairperson Gould closed the floor to public comment at 8:52 pm. The board will deliberate and the audience is welcome stay. There will be no more public input. The board can ask questions of the applicant.
Member Ernst suggested that security of the parking lot be added into the conditions. The applicant shall maintain a security officer, if necessary, for safe parking lot access to the facilities.
Member DeRupo prior to the building permit should there be a peer review for odor control that requires an action plan? She suggested that the expense of that would be on the applicant. The condition would be: “Should there be an actionable complaint regarding odor the board would require an engineering peer review, an action plan. The cost would be to the applicant.”
Zoning Enforcement Officer Gould suggested that the peer review would be more beneficial prior to the application of the building permit. So that odor control technology plan be reviewed before the building permit. The condition would be, “Peer review of the odor control plan and management as a part process for the application and issuance of the building permit.” Mr. McGeorge rephrased it saying “Odor mitigation and control plan shall be submitted for peer review to the Zoning Enforcement Officer or zoning board prior to building permit being issued. Mr. McGeorge was fine with this statement.
Member Geoff Geane had a question about three process questions. He would like clarification; on page four of the application the applicant is asking for an agricultural exemption since they have more than five acres. However, the town’s counsel stated that is nonexempt.
Atty. Ferris stated that he couldn’t resist putting in any possible future arguments. So he put that in that it might be an exempt use even though we were told it was not. The town’s counsel said it was not exempt.
Member Geane’s second question is since this process started the planning board has come out saying they are going to change the way that things happens, (the passing of the new bylaw at the Town Meeting). Chairperson Gould stated that the zoning board cannot apply the new bylaw. However, the applicant is working in good faith under the new bylaw.
Member Geane’s third question; the applicant is asking for two permits one that is being grandfathered in and there has been no discussion about it. Atty. Ferris stated there are two applications; one for light industrial use; that covers the growth and extraction, and the other for retail sales. Geoff thought that the retail was for the existing Poultry Farm retail store/restaurant.
Member Terrill felt that the project was close to the tree line and the abutter’s property. Discussion of the northern setback. The setback is at 267’ and 180’. Mr. White brought out map for clarity of the scope of the project. During the project here would be some minor impacts in the northwest corner. The applicant would like to preserve as many trees as possible. Also the applicant would replace or replant in the area to provide screening trees.
Atty. Ferris stated that the direct abutter has signed a letter in support of the project.
Member DeRupo wanted to know the proposed hours. The hours would be 9:00 am – 8:00 pm Monday to Thursday and the 9:00am – 9:00 pm Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Atty. Ferris said that the hours could decrease if needed. Jim Kauffman noted that there would be less congestion during the winters.
Atty. Ferris shared a survey of the operating hours of the area cannabis stores. A copy will be filed into the record. Chairperson Gould said the hours of operations could be part of the conditions.
Zoning Enforcement Officer Gould had questions about the signage. Mr. McGeorge stated the applicant would comply with the current bylaws or come before the board again for a special permit for the signs. The branding of the businesses is still in the planning stages.
The Zoning Board clerk expressed concerns over the correct wording of the conditions.
Member Ernst thought that the board should do their due diligence and have the town’s counsel review the conditions.
Zoning Enforcement Officer Gould thought that some of these things on the technical side that need to be written prior to the review by town’s counsel. Then have the town’s counsel review the documents. He said that he understood the applicant’s desire to have this settled at this point, but he thought there are few things that need be “right” before the building permit application comes in. He wants everyone, including the applicant and himself, to be clear on the responsibility for the odor mitigation plan will be and the outcome. So, that in the end if there is an issue on whether or not if they have complied with their odor plan and it doesn’t work, there are
clear fixes in place. Zoning Enforcement Officer Gould didn’t feel that it would be a difficult thing to do. He would like to draft them, and then bring to town’s counsel for review.
Mr. McGeorge asked a procedural question on. He asked if the final vote be could be administrative once the language is approved by the board and reviewed by the applicant and the town’s counsel, or does it have go back for another formal hearing. Chairperson Gould stated that the board can’t or shouldn’t vote, but the board can meet to draft the conditions for review for the next meeting. There needs to be a meeting to vote. There does not need to be a complete hearing again.
The board could review the conditions at the next regular meeting or in a few weeks if everyone were available.
For clarity Mr. McGeorge asked if the meeting would be just the board and an applicant’s representative. Kathy Couch responded that the meeting would be open to the public. There would not be a public notice placed in the
newspaper; however the meeting would be posted on the town website and at the town hall as required by the “Open Meeting Laws”. Chairperson Gould stated the board would need time to draft the conditions and have them reviewed by the town’s counsel. Atty. Ferris hoped that the meeting could happen in the next couple of weeks.
Chairperson Gould stated that the board could pick a date and then the board could make a motion to continue the hearing. At that hearing the board could write and review the conditions. Then there would be another hearing to take the vote on the conditions. The board members would need to find a date that would work for everyone. Atty. Ferris asked if there could be a vote subject to the approval of the town’s counsel. Chairperson Gould said that the board could not do that.
Mr. White stated that he believed that there was a fairly clear understanding of what it is that the board is looking for in the plan. He stated that the applicants have a number of technical professionals that are present at the meeting tonight that could aid in the drafting of the conditions. Then asked if the board would allow at ten minute recess where they could make a proposal of the language for the conditions while everyone is present. If the board did not like the language and wanted to continue the hearing, they applicant asks that they have the opportunity to review the proposed conditions before the hearing. Member Ernst stated that he felt that the town’s counsel should review the conditions. Stephanie McNair asked why the board did not have the town’s counsel at this meeting. The reply was that he was not available tonight.
Chairperson Gould stated that there was a request from Zoning Enforcement Officer Gould for a ten minute recess. He needed some time to review details with the applicant.
The meeting was in recess from 9:18 pm until 9:26 pm
Chairperson Gould noted there was a point of order. Member DeRupo wanted to disclose that she has stock in a cannabis company. Member said that this would not impact her vote in anyway. There were no objections from anyone with having her vote.
Chairperson Gould stated that the Condition for agenda item #2 or application #1 of Turning Leaf Centers Otis, LLC to erect and operate a Marijuana Cultivation and Marijuana Product Manufacturer facility at 1570 North Main Road, Otis, MA would be:
“Prior to the issuance of a building permit the applicant shall submit a detailed odor mitigation plan for peer review by an independent consultant selected by the Building Commissioner at the applicant’s expense. The plans will be subject to the satisfaction of the Building Commissioner”. Chairperson Gould asked Mr. if he felt that the verbiage was acceptable.
Jim Kauffman made a motion to grant the special permit with the conditions that were read by the Chair and written. Member Ernst seconded the motion. Affirmative votes were given by Chairperson Gould, Member DeRupo and Geoff Geane.
Agenda item #2 was closed.
Agenda item #3
To hear and act upon the application Turning Leaf Centers, LLC for a Zoning By-Law Special Permit under
Sec. 3.1.3 and 9.3 of the Otis Zoning by-laws as to erect and operate a Marijuana Retailer and Marijuana
Dispensary at 1570 North Main Road, Otis, MA.
Chairperson Gould read the public notice in to the record was noted that the applicant’s presentation ran parallel to the information given for agenda #2. Therefore, the applicant will not be making another presentation.
Chairperson Gould read the conditions:
“The applicant shall maintain a traffic security officer, to the extent necessary, to provide orderly parking in the
designated parking areas during operational hours.” Chairperson Gould asked if there was a board member that would like to make a motion. Jim Kauffman made a motion to grant the special permit with the conditions as read by the Chair as written.
Member Ernst seconded the motion. Affirmative votes were given by Chairperson Gould, Member DeRupo and Geoff Geane.
Chairperson Gould advised the applicant that the special permit will sit in abeyance for 20 days with the town clerk. The applicant can pick up the “Notice of Decision” and “Notice for Filing” on the 21st day. Then the applicant needs to file the permit with the Registry of Deeds in Pittsfield. Then they bring the receipt of filing to the Zoning Enforcement Officer for the building permit. Failure to file or act upon the permit within two years will make the special permit null and void.
Agenda item #4 – Approve minutes from the previous meeting(s)
Discussion: Tabled until the next scheduled meeting
Agenda item #5 – Update from the Building Inspector, Larry Gould
Discussion: Nothing to report.
Agenda item #6 – Update for next meeting
Discussion: Next meeting scheduled for is July 1, 2019. Deadline for any new applications is June 4, 2019. If there are no applications received we will not have a July meeting.
Agenda item #7 – Old/New business:
Discussion: “2019/2020 Meeting Dates and Deadlines” was discussed. Kathy Couch presented the calendar to the board. Kathy explained that the ZBA meeting for September will be held on Tuesday, September 3rd. This is due to Monday, being a federal holiday. Also, the deadline for applications will now be on Tuesdays instead of Wednesdays. This is to align with the office hours of the Board of Assessors.
Meeting adjourned at 9:53 pm
Clerk Zoning Board