Survey shows mixed reviews for cannabis industry in Chesterfield

  • Marijuana plants GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 12/8/2021 9:05:12 PM
Modified: 12/8/2021 9:04:43 PM

CHESTERFIELD — The Planning Board discussed the results of its marijuana survey at its Monday meeting as it weighed how to craft a marijuana bylaw for the town.

“There’s a lot of passion on both sides,” said Planning Board Chairman Charles “Skip” Valencik. “Somebody’s bound to be disappointed.”

The marijuana survey came about after the marijuana company Ember Gardens pitched a grow facility on Willcutt Road, a project that was abandoned after significant pushback from the public. Currently, Chesterfield has no marijuana bylaw.

The survey was available online, mailed to town residents, and available at Town Hall, beginning in October and closed in November. 

“We had 275 responses,” Planning Board Member CJ Lammers said. “I think that was impressive.”

The strongest support was for growing marijuana indoors, with a combined 148 respondents supporting or strongly supporting the practice and 98 opposing or strongly opposing it. Outdoor growing, meanwhile got 130 responses in support and 111 opposed.

Other uses that received support were a cannabis research facility, with 129 in support and 90 opposed, and an independent testing lab/standards testing lab, with 127 in support and 90 opposed.

As for a cannabis product manufacturer or distributor, 112 survey respondents showed support while 110 opposed it, while 111 supported a medical treatment facility with 107 opposed.

Retail stores received a thumbs down from respondents with 145 opposed and 92 supporting, while a social consumption establishment got the most no votes with 161 opposed and 72 in support. 

Respondents also had the ability to give no opinion on a use or not answer a question. The “no opinion” numbers were highest for the lab, at 58, while both the research facility and the treatment facility numbers were 54.

Respondents also answered questions on facility sizes and items they’d like to see addressed in the special permitting process, with the most popular item beings setbacks from roads and property lines, for which 212 respondents voiced support.

Of note, 177 respondents said the town should limit the number of cannabis facilities it allows.

At the meeting, Lammers said the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission could provide assistance in helping to draft a bylaw. 

Valencik said he wouldn’t be surprised if the bylaw crafting process wouldn’t be completed by the next annual Town Meeting.

“We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us,” Valencik said.

Lammers, however, noted the preferences expressed in the survey and expressed a belief that a bylaw could be crafted by then.

“I would like to think we would have something for Town Meeting this May,” Lammers said.

Planning Board Member Carol Rhine also said they thought a bylaw could be taken to Town Meeting.

“I think we can do it,” Rhine said.

Any new marijuana bylaw in town would need to be approved by Town Meeting.

Rich Koloszyc, a Chesterfield resident and member of Farm Bug Co-op, spoke at the meeting. Farm Bug Co-op is looking to establish a small, worker-owned, indoor marijuana growing facility in Chesterfield on Koloszyc’s property.

“A small cultivation facility … seems to fit right in,” he said.

He also expressed hope that a bylaw would be drafted by May and offered Farm Bug’s expertise to the town.

The Planning Board is considering forming a committee to draft the bylaw, and those interested in serving on it can email the Planning Board at planningboard@townofchesterfieldma.com or they can drop off a letter at Town Hall.




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