The Deerfield Planning Board’s Long Night

The Deerfield Planning board wrestled with three major projects tonight.
The Deerfield Planning board wrestled with three major projects tonight.

We are installing a new TV but it’s not ready yet. So I sought out some interesting entertainment by attending a Deerfield Planning Board meeting at Town Hall tonight.

On the agenda was a hotly contested 72-unit condo development on Sugarloaf St, a medical marijuana dispensary hoping to convert a single family home into a place for their patients, and finally, starting after 10 pm, an application for a new salt shed. Phew!

I must take my hat off to John Waite, the chair, and the other seven members of the planning board. The hard part is that their only job is to see how the projects fit in with the town’s rules, not to judge or take comments on the validity of the projects.

So development foes, like my dear Mary, who might think they could attend a planning board meeting and derail a project they don’t like, are not able to do more than comment on things like traffic, water run-off, or parking, but not whether we should save the farmland and if there are other lots in town that would be better for this use.

Tonight the hearing for the big development got a bit testy when the board gave Mark Wightman another delay, and the developer pushed back a bit.  With that friendly smile, both the developer and chairman  Waite praised each other as Waite told him that this was the biggest development they’d ever had to rule on, so he would not be rushed.

Building Commissioner and Health Agent Richard Calisewski put in his two cents when he admonished Pat, the peer review person who works for the Council of Governments to “stay in her lane.”  At least that’s what the new town administrator Wendy Foxmyn has said about every board in town, who seem to frequently butt heads.

The men from Patient Care Network, the non-profit company that’s opening the dispensary, brought in a plan that had a major change from the last meeting. Now they want a curb cut on Route 5 & 10, and before this wasn’t necessary because they would use an existing driveway. The house where they want to open the medical pot facility would not be torn down, just added to, and a big fence and parking lot with massive security are all in the plans.

But that curb cut. Oh boy.  Even though the state DOT are the only ones who can permit people to have curb cuts, or driveways, on a state road, when the board saw this change, they decided on a motion to continue til next month.

Selectboard member and pro-growth planning board member Kip Komosa tried to get a vote to let it pass. But he was voted down. “We say no to everything!” he said, clearly frustrated with making another applicant wait a month.  Boston has the final say about the curb cut, so stay tuned.

I’m not sure many people would stay as long as I did, but I enjoyed seeing the board in action and hearing what is coming up in our little town.