As part of the Halifax Board of Selectmen's meeting on Tuesday, November 28 at 8pm in the Great Hall of the Halifax Town Hall, Four Daughters Compassionate Care will have a public presentation of a proposed marijuana growing and processing facility to be located off of River Street near the Halifax/Middleboro line. While this is a public presentation, it will be up to the Board of Selectmen to decide how much public participation will be included in the presentation as this is not a formal public hearing.
Q. Are marijuana growing and processing facilities allowed in Halifax?
A. Yes, previous town meetings approved changes in the Town's zoning by-laws to allow for marijuana growing and processing facilities in Halifax on land that is zoned "industrial". Developers are required to obtain a special permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals in order to have the facility approved.
Q. Are any other permits required?
A. Yes, it is likely that this type of project would require site plan approval from the Planning Board. As with other buildings and structures, regular building, wiring, and plumbing permits will be needed. In addition, facilities negotiate a "Host Community Agreement" with the governing board (in Halifax, that's the Board of Selectmen) of the city or town. The Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission may require other permits as determined by the regulations that it sets. And, any developer will be required to obtain approvals from State.
Q. Isn't the parcel farmland? How does it qualify as industrial land?
Back more than 50 years ago, when the Town established its zoning by-laws, it zoned a number of parcels near the various town lines as industrial. While the historic use of this and other parcels has been agriculture, the land is zoned industrial which allows for uses other than agriculture.
Q. Is the growing of marijuana considered to be agriculture?
No, the State approved a law that specifically states that the growing of marijuana is not considered to be agriculture, at least for zoning purposes?
Q. Will there be a retail establishment on the parcel?
The plans do not include a retail establishment. I expect that retail establishments will be located nearer to population centers. For instance, package stores are located in more densely populated areas with more vehicular and/or pedestrian traffic, not in unpopulated neighborhoods.
Q. Will the Town receive any money from the facility?
The Town will receive additional property taxes once the facility is built. In addition, the Town will receive funds from the Host Community Agreement, However, the Cannabis Control Commission has noted: "Agreements can include a community impact fee, but must be reasonably related to costs imposed upon the municipality and is capped to no more than 3% of the gross sales of the establishment or be effective for longer than 5 years. Cost imposed by the operation of a marijuana establishment on a municipality must be documented and considered a public record." Collections of sales taxes are for retail establishments, only, so cultivation and processing facilities are not subject to the sales tax.
Q. What should I do if I have more questions about finances, security, parking, traffic, odor, etc.?
A. First, read the presentation document. The document may answer your questions. If you have unanswered questions, send them to the Board of Selectmen. I'll make sure that the Board sees them before the meeting. In addition, I'll forward them to the project developer. Then, attend the meeting on November 28.