A drawing of the outside of a proposed medical marijuana retail building at 22 Sunday River Road in Bethel. TDArchitect

BETHEL — The Bethel Planning Board last week began consideration of an application for a medical marijuana facility on the Sunday River Road, across from the Sunday River Brewing Co.

The plan calls for 2,000 square feet of space dedicated to a caregiver retain store, office, storage space and additional space for future use.  Another 6,000 square feet (50 by 120) would be used as a medical marijuana grow facility.
The application is from Mike and Jodi Everett, who currently own and operate a similar facility on the East Bethel Road.  It was presented by developer Ron Savage of Savage Construction.

Called “Moosehead Farms,” the proposed facility would be built on a 3.5 acre parcel that had previously been approved some years ago by the town for two other projects – a modular home business and a mini-mall with a gas station.

The Everetts have already obtained the necessary licensing from the state.

Early in the board’s discussion planner Laurie Winsor said she favored holding a public hearing on the plan, because people other than abutters to the property might have questions.
Mike Everett said he did not see a reason for a hearing, noting that the town had voted overwhelmingly to approve allowing medical marijuana and an ordinance governing it.  He said the facility would be in a commercial zone, and that it could cost him time in moving forward on his plan.

Planner Sue Dunn said she would want to do a site walk of the property before deciding on holding a hearing. The board set such a walk for Oct. 2 (yesterday).

Among abutters attending the meeting were members of the Swan family.  Bion Swan expressed concerned about possible odors coming from the facility.  Everett said he has installed double the filtration system needed at his East Bethel location, and in response to a comment by Swan that he had smelled an odor there, Everett said it was coming from nearby, outdoor private marijuana grows that are not subject to regulation by the town.

“I don’t want you to smell anything,” said Everett, adding that if for some reason there was a problem he would fix it.  Code Enforcement Officer Toby Walker would be responsible for monitoring the property.

Planning Assistant Sarah Tucker said that Everett had been a member of the town’s marijuana committee and attended meetings of the Ordinance Review Committee when the ordinance was being crafted, providing insights on the subject. Planners and committee members have also toured his facility on the East Bethel Road, finding little to no odor, she said.

“He has a track record,” said Tucker.

Swan also said he was concerned about headlights from traffic entering the facility property shining onto his property.  Everett said he would be willing to erect a fence to address any problem there.

The board also received a letter from another abutter asking questions about the plan.
Everett said that down the road there was a possibility he might add a kitchen to the facility, though it would never be a restaurant.
The planners voted to table the application until the board meets next, which will be on Oct. 9 at 6 p.m. at the town office.

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