Posted: 2022-05-06 15:36:04

GREENFIELD – Satisfied that the plan met the requirements set forth by Massachusetts general law, the Planning Board approved an Approval Not Required (ANR) plan for the approximately 20-acre parcel of land located at 446 Country Club Road, where three groups have signed agreements with the host community to seek separate licenses for outdoor marijuana grow sites.

An ANR allows the owner of land on a public road to subdivide the property without going through the subdivision process, explained Eric Twarog, director of town planning and development. This is because the property “shows no division of land”.

“It must meet the facade requirements of the neighborhood in which it is located. … In this case, both lots have the required 200 feet of frontage,” Twarog said. “One (lot) has 205 (feet) and the other has a little more than that along Country Club Road. And there must be convenient access to the lots through the frontage, which they do through Country Club Road.

The property has been the subject of controversy following a consensus notification from three LLCs eyeing the site for Level 11 outdoor cultivation licenses from the Cannabis Control Commission (CCC). Level 11 allows grow sites with up to 100,000 square feet of canopy, which is the largest possible size for a grow site in Massachusetts, according to the CCC. If approved, up to 300,000 square feet of awning will be permitted on the Country Club Road parcel.

The three LLCs – Country Club Ventures, Fibonacci Farms and Greenfield Farma – have signed agreements with the host community, but have not yet filed plans with the city. A community outreach meeting was held on February 17.

“It’s not really a discretionary process,” said Planning Council Chairman Charles Roberts of the ANR’s approval. “We are required by Mass General Law to assess ANR for these essential criteria – facade and access. Any potential use of this property is not part of this discussion for us.

Prior to voting for approval, members of the Planning Board requested clarification of the property boundaries as depicted on the ANR plan.

“It’s quite a package,” Roberts explained. “Part of it is (farm ownership restriction) and part of it is not.”

Roberts said with the ANRs, “we have to assume the professionalism of the people who put the documents together.”

Although the Planning Board’s discussion did not include a public hearing, there was some objection from resident Al Norman.

“My document that I submitted challenges the idea that it’s superficial because the claimant has said this plan is not a subdivision,” Norman said. “How do you make a plan that’s not a subdivision – how do you grant it an exemption from the subdivision ordinance?”

Twarog replied that this is “precisely why it’s called an endorsement not required plan”.

“That indicates it’s not a subdivision,” he said.

Planning Board members agreed Norman’s comments would be more appropriate for the joint public hearing with the Economic Development Committee on Tuesday at 6 p.m., to be held via Webex. The hearing will focus on a proposed rezoning for marijuana grow operations established in medium to high density neighborhoods and a moratorium on all special permits.

The hearing follows a petition signed by more than 500 residents following notification of potential plans for three cultivation sites on Country Club Road.

Journalist Mary Byrne can be reached at [email protected] or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne