Grow facility appeal postponed

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TENANTS ON HOLD — This file photo shows Ricky Beaudet, owner of ActNow GC Inc., at the August 17 Planning Board meeting where he told the board that his tenants were ready and waiting to move into one of the buildings in which they hope to grow medical marijuana.

OXFORD — The attorney for ActNow GC Inc. has asked for a postponement of the  Appeals Board hearing set for tonight, Dec. 21, following last week’s Planning Board’s final approval of the town’s third and final medical marijuana grow facility permit to another business.

The Planning Board gave its seal of approval to HBC LLC of 7 Oxford Homes Lane for a medical marijuana grow facility last week at its December 14 meeting when owners for the facility submitted the final documentation necessary to meet the town’s Site Plan Application requirements.

The approval slammed the door shut on what has become a complicated and controversial issuance of the final medical marijuana grow permit allowed under the town’s medical marijuana ordinance that was approved last year by town meeting voters.

The fight for the final permit began in April with what many argue was the Planning Board’s approval to give the permit to Stevenson Enterprises Inc. of 517 Main Street, who leases the property to Ricky Beaudet of ActNow GC Inc. who in turn subleased a portion of the property to a medical marijuana grow facility.

The original issuance of the permit was subsequently challenged and ultimately given to HBC LLC following a series of Planning Board and Appeals Board meetings involving both contenders for the permit.

Beaudet, along with Stevenson Enterprises, Inc. as the owner of the property and, therefore, the permit holder, filed an appeal to the Appeals Board on Nov. 22 through ActNow GC Inc.’s attorney Jeffrey Wilson, of Braun & Wilson in Paris.

In the application, Wilson says an error was made in the Planning Board’s decision to give conditional approval last month to HBC LLC for the permit that ActNow GC Inc. and Stevenson Enterprises Inc. believes was theirs.

Wilson has long argued that the Planning Board’s April 13 decision to award the permit to Stevenson Enterprises Inc. was final and therefore not subject to review by the Appeals Board by another.

In the Nov. 22 Appeals Board application, Wilson argues that his client meets the following four conditions required to show hardship and receive a variance. The four conditions and the responses are as follows:

1) The land in question cannot yield a reasonable return unless the variance is granted.

Wilson’s response: “The land was purchased at an increased premium and rented to tenants at an increased premium for marijuana use before the Board of Appeals revoked its permit. The land is not worth what was paid and the higher rent can not be matched with other uses if a variance is not granted.”

2) The need for a variance is due to the unique circumstances of the property and not to the general conditions in the neighborhood.

Wilson’s response: “The property could never  meet the 250-foot setback when the application was first approved. The neighborhood is generally commercial and on a major highway but happens to have neighbors just within the setback.”

3) The granting of a variance will not alter the essential character of the locality.

Wilson’s response: “This neighborhood is generally commercial and on a major commercial highway. There are restaurants, sex retail shops, other medical marijuana facilities, and the like in this general area. None of the abutting residences have contested this issue or appeared [at] any hearing on this matter.”

4) The hardship is not the result of action taken by the applicant or a prior owner.

Wilson’s response: “The hardship was created by an admitted mistake by the town when they approved the Stevenson Enterprises Inc./ActNow GC Inc.’s having lost prior applications and when the Planning Board approved the initial land use application despite the setback issues.”

Wilson has asked the Appeals Board to either approve a variance to the 250-foot setback requirement or grant a fourth marijuana grow facility permit.

In addition to the appeals process, Act Now GC Inc. is awaiting a court date on a civil lawsuit, filed by ActNow GC Inc. this fall against the town and Code Enforcement Officer Joelle Corey-Whitman.

The action, that argues the permit was theirs, has been transferred from Oxford County District Court, where it was filed to Androscoggin County District Court.

As of Tuesday, a date had not been set for the case to be heard, according to the court clerk’s office. Wilson said the lawsuit is seeking damages of $1 million or the issuance 0f a fourth permit to resolve the issue.

ldixon@sunmediagroup.net