NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

December 31, 2013

No vote on pot farm delay

Issue tabled until new council convenes next month

AMESBURY — No vote was taken last night on a temporary moratorium on medical marijuana cultivation, treatment centers and dispensaries after heated debate at a special City Council/Planning Board meeting at City Hall.

The issue was tabled unanimously and will now come before the new City Council when it next convenes in January.

A brief public information session was held first. Spokesmen from both Alternative Therapies Group and Green Heart Holistic Health and Pharmaceutical maintained that both of their nonprofit companies’ proposed Amesbury facilities would be used only for cultivation and not distribution.

ATG plans to lease a location on South Hunt Road and open a sales location in Salem, while Green Heart plans to lease a facility at 10 Industrial Way. Green Heart said that they plan on producing roughly 1,350 pounds a year of their product.

Numerous concerns were raised by councilors such as security, transportation, hiring policies and zoning issues.

The public was able to speak on the issue and interact with the companies’ spokesmen soon after and emotions ran high. One resident was concerned with the amount of time the community has known about the possible ventures before the council had to vote, while other residents were interested in the possible uses of the companies’ products.

More than a few residents spoke of their experiences with medical marijuana as well as public perceptions of marijuana users and use, while output and security also remained concerns with the public.

It was hoped that a temporary moratorium would allow sufficient time for the city to engage in a planning process to address the effects of such structures and uses in the city as well as to enact bylaws in a manner consistent with the sound land use planning goals and objectives.

In other news, Alan Corey was appointed to the Conservation Commission as was Kinsey Boehl and Suzanne Egan.

An ordinance amending Amesbury Zoning Bylaws to allow for the limited use of maintaining chickens as pets and for egg production in residential areas was tabled unanimously.

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