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Planning Board approves medical marijuana, wind turbine bylaws

LAKEVILLE – The Planning Board met Tuesday night to hold a series of public hearings on warrant articles that will be presented to voters at the June 2 annual Town Meeting, including one that would govern the placement of medical marijuana dispensaries in town.

The article as proposed would limit the presence of such facilities solely to the town’s industrial district, and applicants would need a special permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals as well as a site plan review by the Planning Board and the approval of the Board of Health.

“Ours is about a typical response from the other towns (in the state),” said Planning Board member Sylvester Zienkiewicz. “About 40 percent of the towns did it by special permit – business district, 40 percent of the towns did it by special permit – industrial district, and 20 percent of the towns did nothing at all which would allow it in any business or industrial (location) without a special permit.”

“Is a dispensary the same as a cultivation facility?” asked Lakeville resident and public meeting regular Nelson Pratt.

Mr. Zienkiewicz answered Mr. Pratt’s inquiry, stating that cultivation facilities would fall subject to the bylaw the same as dispensaries. To another of Mr. Pratt’s questions, Town Administrator Rita Garbitt explained that the zoning board would likely create rules and regulations for each application on a case by case basis.

“In some communities when you read their bylaws they’re several pages long and in some towns when it’s by special permit the ZBA will work out their own rules and regulations,” she said.

Mr. Zienkiewicz later indicated that the zoning bylaw would create a likelihood that medical marijuana facilities and their operations would remain isolated.

“The most likely thing is you’re never going to see any part of it at all”¦,” he said.

In other news from the Planning Board meeting, Seth Pickering from the state Department of Energy and Resources, Green Communities Division, assured those present Tuesday night that a zoning bylaw change proposed by the Planning Board as discussed at a past Board of Selectmen meeting would not affect the town’s Green Community status.

Ms. Garbitt had expressed concerns at the said selectmen’s meeting that the proposed change, which seeks to do away with siting for clean energy-producing wind turbines being allowed without special permission in favor of more stringent special permit requirements, would potentially jeopardize the town’s Green Community status since by-right siting for clean energy mechanisms is preferred by the Department of Energy and Resources. Mr. Pickering attended the Planning Board meeting to clarify that Lakeville would remain a Green Community regardless if the bylaw passed at town meeting.

“Rita and I have had email contact back and forth on this. This does not compromise your standing as a Green Community,” Mr. Pickering said. “There are choices including as-of-right siting for wind energy, renewable energy generation, but you do have other existing as-of-right siting zoning bylaws for RD and for manufacturing and for solar also. So as long as those remain on the book it doesn’t compromise your status”¦”

Lakeville’s Green Community status, which it gained in August 2012 after several years of working toward the accomplishment, won the town $158,275 in funding last year to pay for a major energy-efficient lighting upgrade to town buildings which will yield a projected annual savings of $52,000 in energy costs. As long as the town remains a Green Community, it will continue to be eligible for such opportunities every year.

The Planning Board voted to recommend the medical marijuana zoning bylaw and the amended wind turbine zoning bylaw to town meeting voters. The selectmen will soon vote on warrant articles, including the two mentioned, deciding whether or not to put them on this year’s annual town meeting warrant.