Last night, the Planning Board held another hearing on the Site Plan Review for 255 Turnpike Road. After more than 90 minutes, the hearing on the Medical Marijuana Dispensary was continued to next Monday, September 26th.
CommCan is expected to come back with answers to some of the Planning Board’s and residents questions. But it’s unlikely, that the final plans will ease concerns of some residents. Commenters last night continued to express ire over the inevitable opening of a Marijuana Dispensary abutting a neighborhood and 600 feet from the middle school.
The Planning Board reiterated that their job isn’t to decide whether or not the dispensary can operate at the site. That determination was made by the Zoning Board of Appeals, following selectmen’s decision not to oppose the dispensary.
Planning’s role is to work with the applicant on the best site plan for the Town and neighbors. If they reject the site plan, the applicant would be entitled to appeal to the ZBA.
In past ZBA and Board of Selectmen meetings, neighbors pointed to the cash only transactions as making the business more dangerous. They believed that customers known to be carrying cash would potentially draw criminals to the business abutting their homes.
In a previous Planning Board hearing, covered by Southborough Wicked Local, the board learned that dispensaries are beginning to accept credit and debit payments. This week, the dispensary explained that the business will have an ATM inside.
The news was disconcerting to neighbor and vocal opponent Marnie Hoolihan. But a representative assured board members that the cash machine will contribute to making it a secure facility. This way, customers don’t need to show up with cash in hand.
Hoolihan also told board members that she hoped they would consider better screening for the facility. The dispensary had agreed to Police Chief Paulhus’ request to install a chain link fence. (The 6-8 foot height on the right will depend on whether or not they can get a height variance from the ZBA.)
Engineer Dan Merrikin said that additional buffering wasn’t needed, since there are 250-300 feet of woods between the building and neighbors. He also believed it’s reasonable for abutting neighbors to expect to see businesses on Route 9.
Hoolihan said that the business on the hill is visible from her property through bare trees in the wintertime. Member Meme Luttrell stated that was backed by written comments submitted by other neighbors. And she believed bylaws urge for residences to be buffered from views of business districts.
Hoolihan asked if a picket fence could be used behind the chain link, as more in keeping with the neighborhood. Chief Paulhus said there would need to be enough space between for his officers to have a good site line. It was one of the issues that Merrikin said he would work on. He also promised to follow up on a security concern. Member Jesse Stein believed it was important to include a backup generator. Owners didn’t agree, but Merrikan advised asking their security consultants for a response.
In addition, Hoolihan wondered how the board could potentially approve a site plan that doesn’t meet multiple highway district zoning bylaws – including frontage.
Owners did agree to the board’s request that home deliveries be made by their regional supply facility, not 255 Turnpike Road.