LAKEVILLE – When Twisted Growers LLC received a special permit from the Zoning Board of Appeal in January 2020 to grow and process recreational cannabis for adults in the 415 Millennium Circle, the owners assumed the permit would also include the conversion of the cannabis grown there in oil included, tinctures and edible products as well as the usual processing of the dried “flower tips” for smokers.
So say the licenses the state Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) issued to Twisted Growers for their Lakeville sites, but somehow the manufacture of related cannabis products and foods was excluded from the 2019 application that the local appeals authority approved in 2020.
The 2020 special permit allowed the cultivation and minimal processing of the flower buds into a dried product for sale to retailers, but did not specifically allow the advanced processing of food or other cannabis-containing products.
Company boss Domenick DeMartino accused a former attorney who was unfamiliar with cannabis control regulations and allowed procedures for oversight in the original application. His new attorney suggested at an appeal committee public hearing on April 14th that the one-room manufacturing facility was a minor change to the 2020 permit and requested the swift approval of a new permit.
DeMartino informed the authority that the approximately 400 square meter product manufacturing room was listed on the site plans approved by the planning authority and on the same plans that were submitted to the ZBA with the original special permit application.
The two employees who would work in the product manufacturing room have already been taken into account in the personnel plan submitted with the application for 2019 and properly assigned employee parking spaces on the original site plans, according to DeMartino.
Somehow, the fact that two people would one day be in this room making cannabis foods and other products from the plants grown there was never explicitly set out in the original permit request, he said. He assumed that the “cultivation and processing” clauses encompassed all product manufacturing, as was the case in his state licenses, he suggested.
“We didn’t apply correctly the first time,” so now we have to apply for a new permit to cover the missing manufacturing authority, the owner explained. Because of the new operation, no changes to the site plans will be required, only some new equipment has been added, he said.
Councilor Amy Kwesell noted that the zoning bylaws do not allow changes to special permits except in cases of procedural errors. So if a new use is proposed, a new special permit must be issued that specifically covers the advanced operations, she stated.
Some board members were reluctant to respond swiftly to this permit application at the April 15 public hearing, noting that police and firefighters had not yet commented on the proposed change in operations.
Chairman John Oliveiri was among those who believed the manufacturing process would be sufficient for a change in operations that the board would need to carefully consider the new application. He noted that the CCC had already examined plans related to the product manufacturing, but said that its board of directors remains responsible for ensuring that the proposed operation “is in no way more harmful to the neighborhood”.
The neighborhood under discussion is a small industrial area just off Route 44 in the north of the city. DeMartino owns two buildings in the park that have been licensed by the state to grow and process cannabis. No Abutter made contributions to the virtual public hearing.
Atty. Kwesell wanted an assurance that the current safety plan reflected the planned manufacturing process. The board members wanted records showing that the police and fire departments had reviewed an updated safety plan and that the health department had reviewed any food processing equipment that might be used.
As the conversation focused on continuing the public hearing through next month, DeMartino said he had no problem waiting 30 days for city departments to review and comment on revised safety plans, new equipment installations, or the company’s food processing plans.
ZBA member Chris Carmichael wanted the original site plans checked to make sure the production space was indeed recorded there, and police and fire departments assured that expanded operations would not compromise safety conditions before voting on the matter.
After another public hearing related to cannabis that night, the board unanimously voted to approve a special permit for Boston Botanical, Inc. to conduct a recreational marijuana cultivation and product manufacturing business at 475 Kenneth Welch Drive in Lakeville Industrial Park on Route 79 on No public statement was made at the hearing, which was continued from the previous month.
The special permit issued contains a long list of “determinations” agreed to by the applicant and the city that governs the operations to be carried out on the site. The planning authority has already approved the site plans, it was established.