Mattapoisett Planning Board weighs in on proposed marijuana bylaw change

Oct 8, 2019

MATTAPOISETT — The Mattapoisett Planning Board voted 3-1 to recommend a proposed bylaw change at the Nov. 4 Special Town Meeting that would allow the cultivation of recreational marijuana in the Limited Industry District, which is within the town’s industrial park.

The vote followed a public hearing on Monday, Oct. 7. Current Mattapoisett bylaw allows for the cultivation of marijuana for medical use only. Facility owner Stu Bornstein said that opening the facility for recreational cultivation would help offset the high operation cost, and that no sales would be made at the facility itself. The product would be sent to other retail locations in the state.

Bornstein and his consultants James Sullivan and Jason Dick described their vision for the facility, and presented the board with the possible benefits to the town.

The building would be over 140,000 square feet in size. Bornstein said that about 90,000 square feet would be used for marijuana cultivation. With wholesale prices for a pound of marijuana going for $4,000 to $6,000 and a portion of revenue going to the town, Bornstein said that he could raise millions of dollars for Mattapoisett after the first couple years of operation.

He said he would employ 50 to 100 people, and would focus on hiring local residents for the business. Both full-time and part-time positions would be available, with some skilled labor positions paying as high as $40 to $50 an hour.

He added that the product grown in the facility would be as secure as money in a bank.

Some residents in the audience were not sold on Bornstein’s pitch for the facility, and cited strong odors, and a lack of objective revenue estimates from the town as their main concerns.

One resident submitted a letter to the planning board, citing his brother’s experience with living near cultivation facilities in Santa Barbara County, California. In discussing greenhouse facilities that were converted to grow marijuana the letter said “the resulting dead skunk stench, particularly when cannabis plants are flowering, has become a huge problem and source of controversy in the neighborhoods in which those facilities are located.”

Dick responded to this concern by saying that the indoor facility would have a much more comprehensive system to deal with odors than greenhouses that were originally used for flowers, and other plants where odors were not a concern to residents. With air scrubbers, and HVAC systems, the facility would be much more similar to an existing one in Taunton, where Dick said the odor is not noticeable unless on the grounds of the facility.

Mattapoisett resident Cristin Cowles voiced her apprehensions about the bylaw change and said that “my main concern is that the plan feels very conforming to the industry, and not necessarily looking out for the good of the town.

She added that with the only revenue estimates coming from the owner of the facility and his consultants, the town should perform objective estimates before moving forward with the facility. 

Voters will have a chance to voice their opinion on the proposed bylaw change at the Nov. 4 Special Town Meeting. This vote would change the bylaw, but not approve the facility, or any potential applicant looking to run a marijuana cultivation facility in the town. 

As of Tuesday, Oct. 8, Selectmen have not announced an exact time and location for the Special Town Meeting.