Police Celebrated and Marijuana Discussed during Halifax Selectmen Meeting
Selectman Tom Millias and town administrator Charlie Seelig were both unable to attend the Tuesday, October 8 Halifax Selectmen meeting but Police Chief Joao Chaves was on hand for the swearing in of one officer and the promotion of another.
Andrew Lyczynski, a recent graduate of the Police Academy in Plymouth, began his career with the department in March of 2018. Chaves said, “Andrew was a distinguished student officer earning praises and accolades from both the staff and fellow academy mates. He earned the position of squad leader and led the squad in exemplary fashion.”
Lyczynski’s family stood by to see him sworn in as a member of the Halifax Police Department. Chaves went on to say, “The residents of Halifax should be proud to have such a dedicated professional and community minded police officer.”
Officer Robert McDonnell, who has been with the Halifax Police Department since 2010, received his Detective badge during Tuesday’s meeting. Chaves said of McDonnell, “Throughout his career with the department, Officer McDonnell has distinguished himself not only through his excellent police work but through his dedicated service to the residents of Halifax.”
McDonnell’s list of credentials is lengthy and includes being a member of the SEMLEC (Southeastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council) Search and Rescue Team where he assisted in finding lost children, missing persons, and recovering evidence. He is also a part of the Old Colony Police Anti-Crime Task Force, who work with state police and other departments on narcotic investigations throughout Plymouth County. Additionally, McDonnell conducts all investigations into sexual assaults that are reported to the Halifax Police Department.
Chief Chaves, who said he feels that Officer McDonnell has the skills needed to make a great investigator, shared a story of a recent investigation spearheaded by McDonnell into various shed break-ins that had occurred throughout Halifax. “Within days he identified a suspect, corroborated information with another police department, and requested warrants for the arrest of the suspect,” Chaves explained.
President and CEO Alex Mazin and Vice President of Community Relations Greg Czarnowski of Bud’s Goods and Provisions met with the Selectmen to discuss the possibility of an adult use outdoor marijuana cultivation facility on the same lot where Four Daughters had previously planned to build an indoor facility.
Mazin gave a thorough presentation explaining his philosophy on the environmental, financial, and socio-economic benefits of outdoor cultivation versus indoor cultivation. According to Mazin, outdoor cultivation is more sustainable for the environment and also has significantly lower startup and operational costs as compared to indoor cultivation. Lighting, air movement, and temperature controls all contribute to the costly nature of an indoor growing environment.
According to Mazin, the costs to build a 50,000 sq. ft. indoor facility is estimated at $10,000,000 whereas the cost to build a 100,000 sq. ft. outdoor cultivation facility (or farm, essentially) is only around $300,000. The lower startup and operational costs mean more affordable products which, according to Mazin’s presentation, “bridges the gap for disadvantaged communities.” Mazin explained, “My belief is that if we cannot allow outdoor cultivation and greenhouse cultivation the whole effort on the war on drugs is a facade because you’re never going to be able to bring down the pricing to the point where you compete with the black market.”
Bud’s, which was established in 2016, is seeking a Host Community Agreement to build the outdoor growing facility with a 15,000 sq. ft. storage building on the 47-acre parcel of land located at 111 River St. That lot is currently zoned industrial and is not within 500 ft. of a school, park, daycare, or any other location where children primarily congregate.
Selectman Gordon Andrews pointed out that a special town meeting is scheduled for October 21 at which residents will vote on a citizen’s petition to increase the distance between residential areas and marijuana growing facilities. It would require a quorum of 100 people with two-thirds of them voting in favor of such a change to amend the by-law. If it passes, the lot on River St. would have to be re-evaluated as a site.
Mazin informed the selectmen that Bud’s had hired a civil engineer to review the land to allow them to predict what they could potentially cultivate on this land seasonally. According to their estimates, the six-month harvest, which would start in May and end in October, would produce a yield of 5,739 lbs. with a total revenue of $9,756,300 in the first year.
As was established with the Four Daughters agreement, 3% wholesale would go to the town estimated at $292,689. Assuming all went according to plan, Bud’s estimates that by 2023 Halifax would see over a million dollars in municipal revenue.
In addition to the financial benefits, Mazin also emphasized job creation as well as positive environmental effects. “I know Halifax is a farming community and the history was a farming community and so I think this sort of fits that and I’d like to see my efforts in changing the notion that cannabis is a manufacturing technique; it is farming, it is nothing more than another crop that you can grow,” Mazin said.
Chair Troy Garron said, “My feeling at this point in time is that even though we voted, the town, on Article 4 to make marijuana legal for adults, the tide has sort of changed.” Garron and Andrews told Mazin that they couldn’t provide an answer at this time and that a lot would depend on the result of the vote on October 21.
Several town positions have recently become available. Sadly, Jack Mather passed away recently, leaving a need for someone from the public to take his place as the town representative on the Old Colony Planning Council. Jonathan Soroko resigned from the Planning Board effective immediately. Longtime member of the Board of Health John Delano is set to retire in early November, leaving an opening that will need to be filled in the interim before the election in May.