Chain Bridge

Chain Bridge

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Excerpt of the Newburyport Chamber of Commerce Email Update on Marijuana

Marijuana Proposals Reviewed at Tuesday's Forum

City Councilor at large, Afroz Khan, organized this public forum to discuss the marijuana related proposals currently being reviewed by city council committees. 

The first proposal is an order that would give Newburyport residents another chance to vote through a special ballot on whether or not they want marijuana shops in the city. Additionally, there is a proposed zoning amendment to allow marijuana retail shops on Storey Avenue, at the Route 1 traffic circle, and in the downtown business district. The council's Budget and Finance Committee is discussing another proposal to enact a local sales tax of 3% on recreational marijuana. 

Guest speaker David Lakeman, Director of Government Affairs for the Commonwealth's Cannabis Control Commission, addressed how the city has the option of limiting the number of retail marijuana establishments to 20% of its liquor stores which would allow up to four locations to open. Guest speaker, Jim Borghesani, a marijuana consultant and spokesman for the 2016 ballot campaign to legalize use of the drug, highlighted that the marijuana retail industry could become Newburyport's second-largest tax revenue source. He also addressed how the retail market would begin the transition from an illegal drug market to a legal market that's regulated by local and state officials. 

Councilor at large, Heather Shand, said that the City Council will continue to hold meetings to discuss marijuana related maters, and encourages residents to reach out to councilors with questions.

Monday, June 18, 2018

6/20/18 Planning Board Agenda

June 20, 2018
7:00 PM
Council Chambers

1. Roll Call

2. General Business
a) Approval of minutes (6/6/18)
b) Approval Not Required – 77R, 85, and 85R Storey Avenue (2018-ANR-04)
c) Release of covenant – Hamilton Way (2010-DEF-01)

3. Public Hearings
 a) Port City Realty, LLC
 75 Parker Street
 Site Plan Review (2018-SPR-03)
 Continued from 6/6/18

4. Planning Office/Subcommittees/Discussion
a) Informal Discussion: OSRD Ordinance and Colby Farm
b) Other updates

5. Adjournment 

Toppans Lane Water Main Replacement Project

The City of Newburyport Water Division will be replacing a portion of the water main along Toppans Lane. Replacing this portion of the Toppans Lane water main should eliminate the need to make emergency repairs.  Work will begin the week of June 18, 2018.  The scope of work is to replace approximately 2,300 feet of existing main with a new 8-inch main.  Please contact the Water/Sewer Business Office at 978 465 4420 with questions.

Excerpt from May 23rd's Historical Commission Minutes

3. Public Hearings

Erik Kaminski
339 High Street - House
Matthew Cummings described the plans to raise an ell at the rear of the structure in order that its
floor is level with that of the main house. The ridgeline would be raised three feet and the porch
would be widened four feet.
The hearing was opened to comments from the public. Tom Kolterjahn, 64 Federal
Street, said the project is a delightful one and he is thrilled the house is being preserved. Caleb
Barlow, 366 High Street, said he is in favor of the roofline being raised and is pleased the
footprint would not be changed.
The Commission members spoke in favor of the project. Stephen Dodge said he wishes
the approach being taken would be used for other structures in the city. Ron Ziemba said the
changes would be beneficial to the house and he likes the new roofline.
Sarah White moved to approve the raising of the rear portion of the structure with the
condition the applicant shall return to the Commission if it is found that any portion of the
structure must be demolished. Stephen Dodge seconded the motion. The motion was approved
with Ned McGrath and Glenn Richards abstaining.

Erik Kaminski
339 High Street - Barn
Matthew Cummings described the plans for the adaptive reuse of the barn. The applicant wishes
to elevate the barn, which is 16” below the level of the surrounding ground. Carriage doors
would be added on the first floor, which would be used as a pool cabana. Living space would be
created on the second floor. The hayloft door would be retained, as the Commission members
recommended at the May 9 meeting, but the applicant is proposing to relocate and replace it.
The plan for the windows has been changed from that which was presented at the previous
The hearing was opened to comments from the public. Caleb Barlow, 366 High Street,
said this is the type of development that should be supported and the proposal would be an
improvement over the existing conditions. Tom Kolterjahn, 64 Federal Street, said the project is
an excellent example of adaptive reuse.
Stephen Dodge said he supports the project and windows as proposed. Sarah White
moved to approve the raising of the barn 1 foot 9 inches with the condition the existing hayloft
door shall be reused in the proposed new location if structurally possible. Stephen Dodge
seconded the motion. The motion was approved with Ned McGrath and Glenn Richards

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Excerpts of May 16th's Planning Board Minutes- Marijuana Retail & Cultivation Discussion (Low Street, Storey Avenue, Clipper Way, Woodman Way)

2. Joint Public Hearing with the Planning & Development Committee and Committee of
the Whole

a) Marijuana Business

Councilor Eigerman opened the Planning & Development Committee meeting. Council
President Connell said the proposed ordinances and amendments before the Committee and the
Board were time sensitive due to state statutory language.

Director Port described two proposals. One considered retail sales and the other considered
cultivation for recreational and medicinal uses. Two city councilors had formulated a potential
ballot question regarding whether to proceed with a moratorium on retail sales and to limit those
sales. Only two districts could accommodate cultivation: the industrial park area and two areas
along Merrimac Street. He demonstrated boundaries of those areas on maps, showing a buffer
zone of 500 feet along the Hale Street residential area. Currently, the southern end of the
industrial park was zoned to accommodate medicinal cultivation only. Two other business
districts were identified for retail sales: the business district around the Route 1 traffic Circle and
extending part way up State Street, and the Storey Avenue area.

Councilor Giunta was opposed to the Storey Avenue area for retail sales because the entire zone,
aside from Clipper Way, was located in Ward 5, the only ward in the City that voted against
recreational marijuana. That created a problem. The buffer zone included three neighborhoods,
including Woodman Way and Park Circle. Additionally, children congregated at Children’s
Healthcare. Removing residential areas from the map left an area small enough to open the City
to legal issues with its size. The Route 1 traffic circle area had similar problems. Other than the
hardware store, small shopping plaza, and around the rotary if not developed under the 40R, the
rest was residential. The cultivation area proposed created concerns about Hale Street’s
proximity to the Squires Glen neighborhood. He had asked multiple people to identify every
location possible where retail could fit. The City Council needed eight votes, two times over, to 
pass a retail sales zoning ordinance. If nothing passed, there was no backup plan. He sponsored
the moratorium because the City’s first attempt to pass a zoning ordinance for retail sales did not
look hopeful under the time constraint. A ballot question was a good next step in order to let
citizens resolve the issue. Councilor Zeid asked for details on the traffic circle area. Director Port
described the area as narrow, linear, and without buffer zones that would shrink the district
enough to open it to legal issues. Approved zones had to be defensible. Councilor Zeid asked
whether protected uses could come into an approved zone in the future? Director Port said adult
retail sales were required to abide by setbacks in the business district. Councilor Eigerman read
names of those who submitted written testimony for the record.
Board members asked if the recently established 40R district was residential? Director Port said
the 40R was a mixed-use district that included all types of retail sales. Therefore, it was not
called out as exclusively residential on the map area.

Public comment open.
Mary Fitzsimmons, 7 Arlington Street, was opposed to retail marijuana sales. She advocated for
revisiting retail sales in a special election and supported the moratorium and ballot question.

Peter Fitzsimmons, 7 Arlington Street, opposed the legalization of recreational marijuana in
Newburyport. The vote legalizing recreational marijuana in the state did not ask Newburyport
voters whether they wanted retails sales of marijuana in their town. Legal recreational marijuana
was a moral, ethical, and public safety issue that required more time to address properly.

Jennie Donahue 18 Cherry Street supported of zoning for retail marijuana sales. She cautioned
about making decisions based on misinformation, propaganda, and old research. Marijuana was
not a moral issue. The two districts under consideration were primarily in Councilor Giunta’s
ward because downtown had been excluded from consideration. Newburyport citizens did not
need to vote again. City officials had waited to the last minute to determine zoning.

Paul Dahn, 343 High Street, urged the City to embrace the opportunity for cultivation only in the
industrial park. There was a prospective industrial park company now offering over 70 jobs, a
new source of fee revenue, charitable contributions.

Ed Desousa, 4 Jenkins Road, North Reading, planned to open a cultivation business at 18 Graf
Road, which would be a source of revenue for the owner and Newburyport. Rowley already had
several cultivation facilities and two retail facilities were approved. Amesbury had retail sales.
Newburyport residents would give revenue to other towns if retail sales were disallowed here.

Mark Griffin, attorney, Finneran & Nicholson, PC, 30 Green Street, on behalf of the Greater
Newburyport Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Action Committee (EDAC),
opposed cultivation in the business park and supported the moratorium. Grace Connolly had
previously submitted materials outlining EDACs position.

Public comment closed for tonight.

Councilor Eigerman asked City Attorney Jonathan Eichman, KP Law, 101 Arch Street, Boston,
whether state law prohibited onsite marijuana use? Attorney Eichman said the state had not
licensed any consumption facilities. Councilor Kahn asked whether cultivation facilities could
convert to onsite use when it became legal? Attorney Eichman said the issue was on hold but
expected to be allowed at some point. Councilor Shand asked why the hospital district was
excluded? Director Port said the small district surrounded by residential areas had inadequate
setbacks. Members of the board asked why residential setback concerns applied in one district
and not in others, such as the State Street area? Director Port said the hospital district was
relatively small from the outset. Buffers reduced it to a size that created legal concerns. Members
asked for the rationale that excluded downtown as a potential district? Councilor Connell said
Chamber of Commerce members were all opposed and the area was too small once buffer zones
were added. He said the state Cannabis Control Commission was late in providing guidance on
defining recreational districts. The rules could change again. He was open to better ideas.
Director Port said the current draft had some provisions against onsite social consumption,
operating outside the enclosed structure, and person-to-person sales.
Councilor Zeid asked if the 3% retail sales tax would go into City’s general fund? Attorney
Eichman said yes. Councilor Zeid asked for clarification of the host agreement fees that were
meant to compensate municipalities for the cost of any community impacts. Attorney Eichman
said the language indicated that a community impact fee of 3% could be required in the Host
Community Agreement for a term of five years. His understanding was at the end of five years
the impact fee would be renegotiated as a requirement for continued operation. The City was
required to maintain documentation on the real costs of community impacts. After five years, the
host would review the impacts and make a better judgment on what fees should be charged. The
grounds for mitigation fees were separate from impact fees. He did know what the legality of
mitigation fees would be at this point because it was a subject for negotiation. A business could
argue that mitigation fees were not legally defensible terms. Councilor Zeid was uncomfortable
ignoring that marijuana sales differed from general retail sales, in light of potential problems for
a residential area. He considered the mixed uses of retail and residential in the traffic circle map
a conflict for marijuana sales if consumption were to be shoved into a retail use. That change
would be troubling, given the uncertainty of the resident vote. Any changes should go back to the
community for a re-vote. Approaching the matter blindly as a land use issue created conflicts.
Council President Connell asked if a mitigation package might include mitigation for a decline in
property values if property tax documentation proved declining property values close to a
facility? Attorney Eichman said that was conceivable. The City would be negotiating the terms
of a contract. Mitigation items would need to be agreed upon, as part of the contract negotiations.
Councilor Tontar asked if it was possible to limit the number of cultivators within the zoned
district? Attorney Eichman said yes. A town could establish limits by number or percentage for
both cultivation and retail sales, but there were limits on the limits. The number of retail uses
could not be reduced to less than 20% of the number of package stores in the City. Councilor
Tontar pointed out the uncertainties of market-based marijuana cultivation. First was the federal
level perspective. Second, Oregon was an example where production volume twice outstripped
demand and prices had fallen. A manufacturers’ shake out would occur due to the market
processes of supply and demand. Third, states protected cultivators today, but if the federal
government should approve it, marijuana could be grown on 10,000 acres in Iowa to meet the
entire U.S. demand. Lastly, Colorado commercial/industrial properties were going up in price,
pushing out other industrial uses. If there was demand for five or seven cultivators in the
industrial park and a collapse occurred, Newburyport would have a sudden supply of empty
buildings in the park. The City wanted business diversity in the park for that potential exposure.
Councilor Shand asked if the number of cultivators was based on anything? Attorney Eichman
said no. Councilor Vogel said, in response to the uncertainty of local versus nationwide supply
and demand, the City had plenty of local breweries that were thriving despite Anheuser Busch
and other national beer brands. He asked for clarification on the meaning of mitigation in Host
Community Agreements. Attorney Eichman said the word mitigation applied in instances where
a municipality was authorized to approve uses such as casinos. Marijuana was a similar situation,
but precise language that could inform a community what was and was not allowable did not
exist. The idea was that mitigation was for the effects of a casino on the community.

Board members were sensitive to the councilors concerns about retail sales. However, Planning
Office staff had counseled the board not to not separate the two. If there was zoning in the
industrial park for cultivation only, was that an issue? Director Port explained his concerns.
Newburyport passed a ballot question by more than 50% that included both cultivation and retail
uses, therefore, the City was not able to prohibit the uses. Not adopting language that included
both uses would result in a gap in the ordinance. The City would not be in a position to specify
what should happen with the other use should someone come in to do business in that regard. An
unregulated use could end up in more locations than desirable. Marijuana was not called out as a
different ‘type’ of retail sale in retails sales districts. The City could be challenged. Attorney
Eichman agreed. Councilor Kahn said the moratorium on retail sales would give the City needed
time to figure out the correct zoning. Guidance was received at the end of April. The deadline
was the end of July. That was not enough time.

Board members asked if a moratorium could proceed without the ballot question? Councilor
Kahn said the moratorium provided time, should a vote be needed. The proposed ballot question
was a separate item. Councilor Giunta said the two retail zones did not get a positive response. A
moratorium temporarily filled the zoning hole. It would expire December 31, 2018 and provided
time if the final phase were a ballot question. Chair Sontag asked if anyone had concerns about
going forward with a package that consisted of a zoning ordinance that approved cultivation in
the industrial park and a moratorium on retail?
Councilor Zeid asked what mechanism limited the number of cultivators? Attorney Eichman said
the ordinance, not the Host Community Agreement. Councilor Shand asked if cultivation
included both medical and recreational? Attorney Eichman said yes. Councilor Eigerman did not
want a monoculture in the business park regardless of whether those were the highest property
values. Manufacturing had a strong economic niche in MA. He supported capping the number of
establishments. He opposed shrinking the cultivation zone. One industrial park block could not
be differentiated from any another. He opposed doing nothing. There was also a July 1 deadline
for one cultivator the City was interested in competing to host. Communities all around
Newburyport allowed cultivation. Everyone needed more study on the zones. A traffic circle
zone would need work. Wetlands had to be considered in buffer zones such as the one behind
CVS where the YWCA Children’s Center was located. Unfortunately, voters gave different
answers when a use was in their neighborhood. He supported coupling the moratorium with a
special election he had already proposed for another reason. State law adequately dealt with
security and odors. The buffers language needed tweaking. The word ‘pre-existing’ should be
added in a few places.

Board members asked to hear again from the opposing industrial park representatives in order to
find out where they would like the zoning to be. Ralph Castagna, Castagna Construction,
representing the Newburyport Business Park Association, said their counsel had sent a memo
outlining concerns, one of which was monoculture. On Feb 13, 2018, business owners
representing a basis of 70% of the square footage of all association voters in the park had signed
a petition against expanding the established zone. Director Port demonstrated on the map the
area in question as all properties to the west of Malcolm Hoyt Drive. When a building became
available and a cultivator came to the table, it should then be put forth to expand the zone. While
some park owners said their area could be considered for cultivation, the most of the park was
uncomfortable with expanding zoning to include the whole park. They were concerned about
property values, security, and odor. The technology for odors had improved, but was not perfect.
Director Port said if a medical cultivator came in, the business would go in the MMOD, as it
existed today. The ordinance did not call out recreational cultivation. If a recreational cultivator
came in, the business would be treated as any other business that could go anywhere. That was
the gap in the current City ordinance. A moratorium would cover until December 31, 2018 or
until an ordinance was passed, whichever came first.

Chair Sontag asked if the City was open to a cultivation use not limited to medical anywhere in
the park if there was no vote by July 1? Members said there would be no buffer zones. Chair
Sontag said the moratorium was only for retail, not cultivation. Councilor Shand said she thought
a compromise was reached with the industrial park. Chair Sontag said it was generally assumed
that the proposed amendment for cultivation could go forward, but that retail was too
controversial to go forward. Councilor Eigerman said the City Council had enough information
to make a decision on cultivation in the park. Retail zoning required more study. Chair Sontag
said the existing cultivation ordinance needed an amendment, a Host Community Agreement,
and the special permitting process with the board. Attorney Eichman reminded everyone that
cultivation was shorthand for every kind of cultivation and excluded retail sales. Councilor
Shand asked about a formula to limit cultivators? Councilor Eigerman suggested five or no more
than 100,000 square feet in aggregate, based on the size of the business park. Chair Sontag said
that should be compared to other businesses in the park. Mr. Dahn said his building was 86,316
square feet. Chair Sontag preferred using a combination of both number and percentage. A board
member asked why a special permit (SP) was needed? Chair Sontag said that was the normal
process for any business in the park. There were two SPs before the board at the next meeting.
Controlling who could do business involved more than a zoning ordinance. Councilor Zeid asked
if insurance was available for the businesses? Mr. Desousa said a number of nationwide
insurance companies insured marijuana cultivation. Additionally, the state was considering a
state run bank. Councilor Giunta supported limiting the number of businesses.

Ann Gardner made a motion to recommend the City Council propose cultivation for the entire
business park with a limit on the number of businesses, a limit on aggregate square footage, and
appropriate provisions inserted to regulate the use, as reviewed and discussed. Leah McGavern
seconded the motion and five members voted in favor. James Brugger opposed.

James Brugger made a motion to recommend the City Council approve the Moratorium on retail
sales. Mary Joe Verde seconded and all members voted in favor.

Board members were disappointed that the moratorium was coupled with a ballot question. Chair
Sontag wanted the work on retail-zoned districts to go forward in parallel if the City Council
went forward with the referendum and moratorium, to ensure that the City did not run out of time
again. Councilor Eigerman suggested she recommend to the Council a language change. Board
members preferred removing the ballot question so that the moratorium was used only to discuss
zoning, not the ballot issue. Councilor Giunta said the intent was to figure out the zoning. Board
members said retail was coming and would be in surrounding towns. It would not take seven
months to figure out. It was better for the City to have language that addressed appropriate
locations instead of a going through a debate. All municipalities were dealing with the same
timing issue and figuring it out. Language should include that a ballot question could not come
up during the moratorium. Councilor Giunta advised that the process was meant to retain control
rather than put the Council in a position where they would not get the needed votes twice. There
was pressure from all over the City regarding problems with locating retail sales. Leaving all
options on the table would help. Councilor Eigerman reminded council members that a ballot
vote would not be binding. He read the proposed moratorium language again. The moratorium
could end prior December 31 if there was a referendum or an ordinance. The board preferred
limiting language to studying retail districts locations.

Leah McGavern made a motion to recommend to the City Council to amend the retail zoning
moratorium language to include “for the purposes of determining location of retail sites by
December 31, 2018.” Mary Jo Verde seconded the motion and all members voted in favor.
Councilor Zeid asked if the board was making the assumption that there was a suitable location?

Board members said yes.

Councilor Giunta made a motion to adjourn the Planning & Development Committee meeting.
Heather Shand seconded the motion and all members voted in favor.

Motions Approved.
During the course of discussion and consideration of this application, plan(s), supporting
material(s), department head comments, peer review report(s), planning department comments
and other related documents, all as filed with the planning department as part of this application
and all of which are available in the planning department, were considered.

6/19/18 Conservation Commission Agenda

June 19, 2018
6:45 pm
Board Room
Senior Community Center, 331 High Street


1. Call to Order

2. Approval of Meeting Minutes
• June 5, 2018

3. Conservation Commission – Old & New Business (6:45pm – 7:00pm)
 1. Plum Island updates

4. Certificates of Compliance, Requests for Determinations, Requests for Minor
Modifications & Requests for Extensions (7:00 pm)

 1. John Galligan, Bradford & Bigelow, Inc.
 3 Perkins Way

 Request for Certificate of Compliance (051-0759)

2. Craig Pessina, Chart House Development, LLC
 23 Hale Street

Request for Certificate of Compliance (051-0948)

5. Public Hearings (7:00 pm)
 1. Lisa Cosimano Gallagher, Port City Realty, LLC
 75 Parker Street
 Notice of Intent (051-0988) Continued from 4/03/18

 2. Arthur Brewer II
 16 K Street
 Notice of Intent

6. Enforcement/Violations

7. Orders of Conditions

8. Continuation of Old and New Business (if any)

9. Adjournment  

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Street Light Outages in the Ward

This is the list of street lights that are out in the Ward. I have passed this list on to the electrical inspector. If your street light is out and I missed it please let me know. 



15 Wildwood  Pole #2 
4 Morin Road 
19 Richardson Path 
22 Storeybrooke  Pole 12-80
13 Virginia Avenue Pole 16-80 (this one has been out for a few years now)