, Newburyport, MA


November 19, 2013

Councilors erred by rushing 'pot farm' vote


There’s some irony to this. On the same night that the council was debating the resolution, hundreds of Amesbury’s business leaders were gathered at the Amesbury Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting, where the business community’s accomplishments were highlighted and next year’s theme was announced — Grow with Amesbury. The chamber gave out flower bulbs to reinforce its theme, but we are sure that the chamber and its members weren’t thinking “pot farm” when the new theme was introduced.

All around the area, communities are publicly trying to put in moratoriums and zoning changes to manage marijuana dispensaries and production. Amesbury is way behind the curve on this, it needs to catch up.

It’s incumbent on elected officials to follow the usual protocol when considering matters of public interest. In this case, a “pot farm” may have negative implications for the town. The potential developers don’t want the location made public via The Daily News, noting security risks. We don’t think that’s the kind of deal that the taxpayers of Amesbury would consider to be fair and reasonable. People have a right to know when something controversial is planned for their town, and where it will be.

Amesbury is in the midst of redefining itself and remarketing itself. It has so many strengths to offer. Open government should be one of them, but this latest incident shows the city isn’t there yet.

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