OXFORD — The Planning Board has approved, with conditions, a site plan application submitted by HBC LLC for the the town’s third and final medical marijuana cultivation permit.
The 2-1 vote on a motion by Chair Denise Landsberg and seconded by Dana Dillingham, sets the stage for the permit issuance at the board’s Thursday, Dec. 14 meeting if the applicant provides materials to meet 10 conditions or is approved for a 30-day extension to submit the information.
Stuart Snyder, the dissenting vote, said he preferred to table the application until all of the 60 standards in the town’s site plan review process were met.
The vote followed more than three hours of discussion to determine if the applicant met the 60 standards and about 20 minutes of debate between members who disagreed on how the motion should be worded. Dillingham’s repeated attempt to have the applicant provide the proof necessary to meet the 10 conditions by Dec. 14, failed to yield a second.
The board is seeking information such as the dimensions and setbacks on the building that will be used to grow marijuana. Applicant Greg Hamann of HBC LLC said a survey map with most of the was information being sought was submitted in the original packet last summer.
The survey map is missing, according to Code Enforcement Officer Joelle Corey-Whitman.
Since last summer, three of the Planning Board members have resigned and at several officials said they believe the map may be with one of those members in their paperwork. Because it is unclear, Hamann has offered to have a new survey map submitted but said it may take time.
“I don’t want to kick it down the road,” Dillingham said of the on-going issue, which began last April when Stevenson Enterprises Inc. was awarded the final medical marijuana cultivation permit but was subsequently stripped of that permit in an Appeals Board decision last summer.
The issue is now before the Oxford County Superior Court following the filing of a suit by ActNow GC Inc. that, in part, is seeking $1 million in damages from the town.
The legal action follows the Oct. 3 Board of Appeals decision to overturn a previous decision by the Planning Board, which issued the permit to Stevenson Enterprises Inc., who in turn leased the property at 517 Main St. to ActNow GC Inc., who subleased one of three buildings to two individuals who intended to cultivate medical marijuana.
Attorney Jeffrey Wilson of Braun & Wilson in Paris, representing ActNow GC Inc., told the Planning Board last week that the problem could be resolved by issuing a fourth medical marijuana grow permit.
That action is not currently allowed under town ordinance.
Wilson filed an initial complaint in Oxford County Superior Court last month on behalf of his client ActNow GC Inc. seeking, in part, an emergency injunction to stop the Planning Board from acting on the Hamann application.
In his complaint, Wilson called the action by the Appeals Board “devastating” to Stevenson Enterprises Inc., Act Now GC Inc. and their tenants and families.
On Oct. 3, the Appeals Board voted 3-1 that the Planning Board was incorrect in issuing the third and final marijuana growing permit to Stevenson Enterprises Inc. The Appeals Board believed the Planning Board did not have the authority to issue the permit under the town’s Medical Marijuana Ordinance because the permit did not meet the required 250-foot setback from the nearest private residence.
That vote reversed the Planning Board’s Aug. 10 decision to deny the medical marijuana permit application of HBC LLC and sent the application back to the Planning Board for reconsideration.
The Planning Board’s Aug. 10 decision on a 3-2 vote to award the final permit to Stevenson Enterprise Inc. was based on the board’s majority belief that it had issued the final permit with one contingency to Stevenson Enterprise Inc. at its April 13 board meeting. According to the court complaint, that final approval allowed ActNow GC Inc. owner Ricky Beaudet to move forward to obtain a tenant in his building for the medical marijuana operation.
At that time, HBC LLC had asked the Planning Board on Aug. 10 to formerly deny its site plan application for the medical marijuana grow permit in order to gain standing for an administrative appeal.
The Planning Board denial of HBC LLC’s site plan review application was based solely on the unavailability of a medical marijuana grow permit at that time.
The request for an emergency injunction by ActNow GC was denied in Androscoggin Superior Court on Oct. 31 when the court agreed with the plaintiff – the town of Oxford – that no basis existed for the issuance of any injunction or stay on the Planning Board’s expected vote on Nov. 9. That vote was taken to award the permit with conditions.
The Planning Board meets again on Thursday, Dec. 14, beginning at 6:30 p.m. in the Town Office.