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Housatonic resident urges broader perspective on pot cultivation facility

By Monday, Sep 16, 2019 Letters 3

To the editor:

This is an open letter to the Selectboard of Great Barrington.

I encourage the Board to resist the emotional pleas from the loudest voices in the community, in regards to the proposed marijuana growth facility on Van Deusenville Road, and instead think carefully and logically about what is best for the entire town.

An aerial view of the proposed cannabis production facility on Van Deusenville Road. The site is boxed in black. Lot lines are in purple. Image courtesy Fulcrum Enterprises LLC

I am a neighbor of the proposed facility, and I could potentially be affected by whatever industry gets established there, though because my house is not adjacent to the property, the effects would likely be marginal. I sympathize with my neighbors who live closer to the site, as any industry installed there will affect the immediate neighborhood with lights, sounds, smells, and traffic. But it is an industrial zone, already with a junkyard, solar field, quarry, and commercial railway. I trust that the town is not considering rezoning this area because of these existing industries, though if this area is improperly zoned in the eyes of the town, then that discussion should be undertaken. The objectors in the neighborhood are making complaints that come along with any industry. Yet these side effects of industry are the price to pay for sustainable economic development. To my mind, this proposed site brings year-round, sustainable jobs and tax money to the community, money that can be used to make this place affordable to more than just second-home owners. Shouldn’t we be searching for something besides service-sector jobs to sustain our community? And isn’t an industrial zone the place to do it?

People’s feelings about what happens in the town is something that the Select Board should take into account, and it is important that you do so. I suspect that the objection: “It’s about the plot, not the pot” actually obscures the reality that people’s objections are very much an emotional response to the product being developed at that site. Nevertheless, our town voted to legally allow the growing and selling of marijuana, and the feelings of a small percentage of our population should not trump the actual vote that created our legal guidelines for action.

Sam Ernst