WESTPORT — Residents are circulating a petition for town officials to consider further distancing potential retail marijuana facilities from residential areas.
Concerned residents asked selectmen for help at Monday’s virtual meeting. The board assigned Town Administrator Timothy King to work with legal counsel toward a policy.
So far, only Coastal Healing has a special permit and a site plan approved by the Planning Board to develop a medical marijuana facility on State Road, a commercial district. Coastal Healing plans to also conduct recreational pot sales at that location and is still working on obtaining permits.
A bylaw change in February allows medicinal operations to sell recreational cannabis.
Coastal Healing more than two years ago received a letter of non-opposition from selectmen to move forward at that State Road location, adjacent to a bowling alley and flanked by other commercial properties.
While Coastal Healing appears to be the only facility with almost all hurdles met, that facility is not the one causing anxiety for residents.
Concerned resident Michael Fernandes told selectmen on Monday that when residents agreed that medical marijuana facilities could also sell to a recreational market, many were under the impression that these facilities would be on State Road and away from residential areas.
He and others did not expect the Main Road village to be a target for proposals.
“If we don’t have all our ducks in a row, we could have some issues,” Fernandes said.
In the spring, the New Bedford-based Tree Beard Inc. met with selectmen and proposed turning an abandoned home at 1104 Main Road into a marijuana facility. Through Zoom, Tree Beard’s lawyer Nicholas Gomes proposed other locations as well — 678 Main Road, 983 State Road and 0 Wildberry Way.
Reached this week, Gomes said that those four locations were preliminary and presented only to give townspeople “options for viable locations.”
Gomes said after receiving input, he will finalize plans and present “one to two locations.”
Still, residents at Monday’s selectmen meeting say that Main Road is not a good location. Although there are businesses along that strip, it is a village with residences as well.
“Our concern is there is no bylaw or guidelines to protect residents,” resident Sarina Alves said. “We just want rules in place.”
Selectman Steven Ouellette said he is working with petitioners and looking to establish a rule that these facilities must be distanced 1,000 feet from residences. Ouellette said these facilities, as of now, can be 500 feet away.
Selectman Brian Valcourt said that marijuana facilities are heavily regulated by the state, so he warned against creating more hurdles.
He also said based on the town’s size, only two retail marijuana sites can be located within town borders.
In addition to Tree Beard Inc and Coastal Healing expressing interest in the town, Between the Rows also wants to establish a business at 528 American Legion Highway.
Averyl Andrade, of Between the Rows, recently said the business would be a Craft Cannabis Cooperative.
“Craft Cannabis Cooperatives do not do any direct-to-customer sales. Our plan is to cultivate, process and manufacture (using a solventless process) top shelf Craft Cannabis, Cannabis Concentrates, Edibles and Topicals while creating a positive impact on our community,” Andrade said recently in an email.
Andrade said Between the Rows hopes to become a community partner. Between the Rows will host a community outreach forum this Sunday, Aug. 30 at 11 a.m.