MRCC

Grow, Gift, Repair

#MUNICIPAL #GUIDANCE: Erving

The bylaw covers everything from what areas of the town cannabis stores are allowed in to how the sites need to be screened. Many of the Erving regulations merely point out important information from the Cannabis Control Commission regulations, like the fact that there needs to be 500 feet in a straight line between the nearest property line of a cannabis business and the nearest property line of a school. Boyden emphasized that all of the planning board bylaws need to be simple enough for a small board of elected members to reasonably enforce.

“In most cases the laymen has to be able to understand (the bylaws),” said Boyden. “If the bylaw gets too complicated, it becomes too difficult to administer as an elected board.”

Rebecca Hubbard of Erving attended the meeting and said that she worried about some problems that other states with legal recreational marijuana were having, like problems with security and with keeping edibles out of the hands of children.

“Because of the layout of our town, I don’t see us being a big retail hub,” said Deb Smith, a planning board member.

Smith said that many of Hubbard’s concerns would be less of a concern if a cultivator or manufacturer came to Erving rather than a downtown retail store.

The most unique aspect of Erving’s regulations is that all marijuana businesses will have to be approved through a special permit process. The planning board can use the special permit process in bylaws to ensure that certain business applications are given special scrutiny before being approved. The special permit application requires the applicant to answer a series of questions about how the proposed business or zoning request will effect the town, from sewage to abutting property owners to environmental impact. The special permit process also requires a public hearing and then has to pass the planning board by a supermajority, meaning that four of the five members must vote in favor of it.

Boyden mentioned that a special permit process was used to approve the Dunkin’ Donuts drive through in Erving. Through the special permit process, the planning board and the public were able to address concerns about traffic flow and signage.

“A special permit allows you to set those things,” Boyden said. “The public will have the chance to weigh in.”

Even though that process seems arduous, the positive aspects of the special permit process were clear at the public hearing when residents began to bring up concerns. For instance, Chenven brought up concerns about odor at cannabis stores (regulations state that no odors will be noticable when outside of the property) but board members emphasized that the special permit process will allow residents to address these concerns with applicants before the business goes in and again five years later when the businesses license will need to be renewed.