Flood concerns discussed at marijuana retailer hearing


WESTFIELD – The RC Retail, dba “Red Cardinal,”  recreational marijuana shop planned for 265 Union St. came before the Planning Board on Feb. 16 seeking a special permit, site plan approval and a stormwater permit. Red Cardinal and the City of Westfield entered into a Host Community Agreement on Nov. 9, 2020.

The facility is to be located on a subdivided portion of the property at 265 Union St., owned by Clifford Laraway. Laraway, who was present on the call, said the house is rented out to an employee.

Attorney Bradford Moir, representing the applicants, said the special permit is needed due to a residential property within 300 feet. He said the building has to be flood proofed and compensatory storage provided due to location in the floodplain.

Robert Levesque of R. Levesque Assoc. said he had initially been contracted to work on the conservation issues, and more recently to upgrade the site plans. He said on the southeast side of property is bordering vegetative wetlands. He said the existing house will remain, but a garage and another structure will be demolished to compensate for a new building, a proposed 2,010 square-foot structure toward the front of Union Street.

Levesque said a septic system will be installed, and a perc test is scheduled in the next week or two.

Planning Board Chair William Carellas opened the public hearing to participation from the public.

Melissa Kielbasa of 342 Union St. said they own property south of the applicant on the other side of the brook, and own a right of way to the property behind the applicant. She said she didn’t see the right of way in the plan.

Laraway confirmed that they have a right of way north of the property along the tree line to cross over to property they just purchased. Levesque said they would confirm that there’s no obstruction to the right of way.

“I don’t know if you realize how badly that field floods there. We have photos of that field with a kayak in it. Every time we build on Union Street, it affects the last remaining farmland on that road,” Kielbasa said.

“We know that area floods pretty significantly. The solution has been over the years to compensate for displacement in the floodplain through compensatory storage. One way is to demolish existing buildings, (which is) our plan here,” Levesque said, adding they would be going to the Conservation Commission for a permit, although the date had not yet been set.

A letter submitted for public participation was also read by Carellas from a resident on Devon Terrace, opposing the application. The writer said they did not want the business located so close to a residential area, and that access from Union Street to their property was already a concern.

The public hearing on the application was continued to the March 2 meeting.

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