Medical pot facility backers tweak designs to earn local approval

  • This house at 4 Greenfield Road, Routes 5 & 10, in South Deerfield, could be the location of a medical marijuana facility. recorder file photo

  • House at 4 Greenfield Road, Routes 5&10, in South Deerfield. Dec. 28, 2016.

For the Bulletin
Thursday, February 16, 2017

SOUTH DEERFIELD — Designers of a proposed medical marijuana dispensary at 4 Greenfield Road have changed plans slightly to appease town officials.

Changes include moving the entrance and security measures. If approved, New England Patient Network will renovate an existing house — leased to the nonprofit by Angel Properties LLC — built in 1960 and worth nearly $200,000, on a roughly 4-acre plot, zoned commercially.

The land falls within a previously defined marijuana overlay district.

“The only thing that’s changed is snow storage, the lights, and I’ve changed the fence to vinyl coated,” said Tony Wonseski, an engineer with SVE Associates, during a public hearing at a Planning Board meeting earlier this week.

Wonseski also noted the entrance change, adding that revisions were enacted based on suggestions and comments given by representatives from a few town departments, including the Police Department.

Currently, New England Patient Network has a Provisional Certificate of Registration, essentially the state’s stamp of approval.

“Their team and summaries of operating plans have been vetted and approved by the Department of Public Health,” Valerio Romano, an attorney from VGR Law Firm representing the nonprofit said, referring to the certification process. “They are through the application process. We have to build out and go through state inspections before being allowed to open. We can’t have all required approvals until that construction is complete.”

This week’s meeting was attended by about a dozen town residents and a panel of engineers and representatives from New England Patient Network, including its co-founder Nick Spagnola and Romano.

In review of the plans, Pat Smith, senior land use planner at the Franklin Regional Council of Governments charged with a peer review of designs for discrepancies, said “the plans were very comprehensive, and the only things that need to be added were details.”

During a public comment section, a few residents voiced concerns about the project.

Mark Valone, who owns the former Atlantic Furniture building next door at 10 Greenfield Road, said he’s worried the nonprofit organization won’t do a good job renovating the existing building. Before deciding on the 4 Greenfield Road property, New England Patient Networks was in negotiations for space in Valone’s lot.

Valone said he’s not sure why the organization decided not to move into his space.

Whately Planning Board member Judy Markland was there, too, because of the proposed project’s close proximity to the town line, noting traffic and security concerns.

In the end, Deerfield Planning Board member Henry “Kip” Komosa asked other members to approve the dispensary’s designs.

“The only difference (in) this plan from we had before is where the driveway comes out,” Komosa said, before putting forward a motion to approve the plans. “I think it’s pretty straightforward and a very small plan — I don’t see why we can’t vote on it tonight.”

His motion wasn’t seconded, however, and a subsequent motion to continue the public hearing at next month’s board meeting passed a 6-1 vote, with Komosa voting against.