March 11, 2019

Charlton pot farm project gets court win, still faces uphill battle

Photo | Courtesy
A rendering of Valley Green Grow's proposed facility in Charlton

Massachusetts Land Court has struck down a Charlton bylaw prohibiting the recreational marijuana industry, clearing one of many legal hurdles for the 1-million-square-foot pot cultivation facility proposed by cannabis firm Valley Green Grow.

In a ruling issued Thursday, a land court judge said the town meeting article was an improper attempt to ban the industry. The bylaw, the court said, is invalid and of no force and effect.

Instead, the town's zoning bylaws regulate the industry by allowing for marijuana cultivation in certain zones, said Judge Robert Foster.

Valley Green Grow, which has a purchase and sale agreement for the Charlton Orchards property, initially appealed to strike down the bylaw in September.

Last May, Town Meeting voters adopted a bylaw to allow recreational marijuana uses in agricultural, community business, industrial and business park districts via a special permit.

Neighbors and other residents at an August town meeting brought two proposals forward: one to rescind that zoning amendment and another to ban the recreational industry in town via a general bylaw.

The proposal to undo the zoning amendment -- needing a two-thirds majority to approve -- failed, but the general bylaw passed.

"Having permitted marijuana use through its zoning bylaw, Charlton could only change or bar that use by amending the zoning bylaw," Foster said.

The legal win comes after the Charlton Planning Board has now twice denied a site plan and subdivision plan for the project, the latter of which came last week. The company is already appealing the first denial from January and another appeal could be likely.

Last week's vote came simultaneous to the Planning Board's vote of no confidence in the town's Board of Selectmen and Town Administrator Robin Craver. Selectmen have voted to approve community and development agreements with the company, a decision which opponents argue was done without proper notification to residents.

Read more

Valley Green Grow appeals another Charlton Planning Board decision


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