Mattapoisett voters say ‘no’ to recreational marijuana cultivation facilities

Nov 5, 2019

MATTAPOISETT —  In a Special Town Meeting on Monday, Nov. 4. Mattapoisett residents voted 214 to 67 against a proposed bylaw change that would have allowed the cultivation of recreational marijuana in town. 

The Planning Board and Finance Committee recommended the bylaw, but residents at the Nov. 4 Special Town Meeting voiced concerns about finances, marijuana cultivation facilities reflecting poorly on the town’s reputation, and potential odors.

Currently, medical marijuana facilities are allowed in the Limited Industry Zoning District. The bylaw change would have allowed recreational cultivation facilities as well.

Stuart Bornstein, owner of the warehouse property at 5 Industrial Drive had previously expressed his intentions to use the property to cultivate marijuana. When asked why voters should approve the bylaw change, Bornstein explained that, with 3% of gross sales going to the Town of Mattapoisett, “the town’s got to look at it as an opportunity.”

Bornstein previously presented his intentions to the Planning Board and said that his proposed facility could generate millions of dollars for the town over time. The Planning Board ultimately voted 3-1 to recommend the bylaw change.

Following estimates calculated by Administrator of Assessing Kathleen Costello, the Finance Committee also recommended the bylaw change due to the revenue that could be generated for the town. Costello’s estimates showed a total 5 year projection of $4,162,199 from Bornstein’s proposed facility.

Some residents, such as Michael Esposito, expressed concerns that the estimates were only speculative in nature.

Robert Moore, the first detective in Mattapoisett said, “I think it’s really ironic that we’re voting on this proposal in a school in Mattapoisett.” 

He went on to say that children learn by actions more than words, and that voters should set an example by not allowing such facilities in the town.

Another resident was worried about how cultivation facilities would impact the town’s reputation and asked if any study had been done to determine that. Town Administrator Michael Gagne said there had not been.

Some residents opposed to the bylaw change reiterated that the Town of Mattapoisett previously voted against the legalization of recreational marijuana.

Other residents were concerned about unpleasant odors from cultivation facilities. Attorney Valerio Romano replied that unlike outdoor greenhouse facilities in California, indoor cultivation facilities like the one proposed by Bornstein have a much more comprehensive system to contain odors. Facilities would also be subject to nuisance laws, and legally be required to contain odors.

Not everyone at the Nov. 4 meeting was opposed to the bylaw change. Charles Woodford McIntyre was one of the only young adults in attendance and spoke on behalf of the younger millennial, and gen z generations, who tend to be more supportive of marijuana legalization, and went as far as saying that one day the views held by older generations would “no longer be relevant.”

When asked about his stance on the proposed bylaw change, McIntyre said that after researching the war on drugs, he realized that too many people had been unjustly hurt or imprisoned, and that the prohibition of marijuana was rooted in racism and homophobia. To clarify, McIntyre said an early unfounded argument against marijuana, was that it could somehow lead to homosexuality. For context, according to the American Civil Liberties Union black Americans use marijuana at comparable rates to white Americans, but are nearly four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession.