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Granby voters OK moratorium on pot sales, study of West Street School

  • East Meadow School in Granby. A new elementary school is being built in the front which is replacing the West Street School. Voters at a special Town Meeting Tuesday agreed to fund an engineering study to determine what to do with the West State School. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 12/19/2017 11:28:35 PM

GRANBY — Voters at a special Town Meeting Tuesday placed a moratorium on the opening of retail marijuana establishments for one year, effective immediately.

“This moratorium isn’t banning the sale of marijuana, it is just putting in some time to establish the rules and regulations for doing so,” said Granby Select Board Chairman Mark Bail.

Some 50 residents who attended the special Town Meeting also OK’d funding for an engineering study to decide what to do with West Street School, which is set to close at the end of the school year in June.

Granby joins communities like South Hadley and Westhampton in passing the marijuana moratoriums while town governments work to establish regulatory policies to handle the changing laws. In a ballot vote last year, Massachusetts legalized recreational marijuana, leaving cities and towns to decide how they want to govern the change in their communities.

Until the Cannabis Control Commission lays out policies for retail sale of marijuana in mid-March, the town needs more time to establish sound policies, Town Administrator Christopher Martin said. He said a committee governing marijuana sales will be established by the Select Board in the coming months.

“I would like to see it fast-tracked,” said Martin.

One resident asked if this meant farmers could not grow marijuana for sale. The Select Board said that no agricultural establishment may sell marijuana until further regulations are put in place after Nov. 30, 2018.

Police Chief Alan Wishart answered a question regarding the tax revenue associated with the sale of marijuana, saying there is no way to gauge how much revenue it will generate. However, he said there will be some increased costs of enforcement.

West Street School

Residents passed two other articles Tuesday. The first approved spending about $29,156 to fix the generator at the West Street pump station, and the second allocated $31,100 to conduct an engineering study of the West Street School.

With the West Street School set to close this June, the town is debating what to do with the aging building when students move into a new addition at East Meadow School next fall.

An engineering study would help determine the financial and logistical options, including whether to sell the building, tear it down or repurpose some spaces for businesses or a new Town Hall.

Kenneth Hebert of Lyman Street suggested the town sell the building to a private developer for $1, then allow them to build something worthwhile at no cost to the town without spending money on the engineering study. Martin said he doesn’t believe any parties would be interested.

Jay Joyce, chairman of the Granby Energy Committee, spoke in favor of conducting the study, citing that money spent upfront would make Granby eligible for grants in the future.

“We need to have a study done on that property to decide if it is worth salvaging,” Joyce said.

The final motion passed with fewer than a dozen objections.

In 2010, the town conducted an initial feasibility study on West Street School and determined it no longer met codes to serve as a school.

Sarah Robertson can be reached at srobertson@gazettenet.com


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