No decision for Geoff Rose at West Tisbury ZBA

Residents of West Tisbury listen attentively at the Zoning Board of Appeals hearing on Thursday. – Edie Prescott

Frustrated in his effort to open a medical marijuana dispensary at a proposed new location at 90 Doctor Fisher Road in West Tisbury, just 0.7 miles from the West Tisbury School, Geoff Rose appealed for a special permit from the town zoning board of appeals at a hearing Thursday. There was no decision on his appeal, but Mr. Rose learned that he faces difficulties because his application is for a permit to use part of a building whose lawful uses have not yet been fully declared, disclosed, or approved. Only 6,600 square feet of a possible 14,400 square feet is for the medical marijuana dispensary. The use of the remaining 7,800 square feet is unknown.

“I believe it wouldn’t be the habit or the practice of this board to give a special permit for a building that was not used as it was being proposed at the special permit appearance,” zoning board of appeals member Larry Schubert said. “It would be my opinion, that you have to say, I’m going to use my building for ‘x’ at the time that you apply for a permit.”

Because the rest of the building’s use has not been declared, auto traffic and parking for the entire large commercial building is unclear.

“We don’t know what the other uses are going to be for the lot,” Doctor Fisher Road neighbor Melissa Manter said. “It’s sort of like, okay we want permission for part of it, but we’re not going to tell you everything yet. We don’t know what’s going to happen in the building, but we’re being asked to give permission for something that isn’t even really there. The chicken or the egg, I’m really not sure. I think it is a very inappropriate place for it.”

The building proposed is being built on land owned by Jim Eddy, owner of Big Sky Tents. Mr. Eddy was in attendance at Thursday’s meeting. The building is expected to be two stories, with 7,200 square feet of space on each level, totaling 14,400 square feet. Mr. Rose plans to use 2,400 square feet of level one and 4,200 square feet of level two. The use of the remaining space is unknown. Mr. Eddy said it may be used for storage for his own business.

Mr. Rose explained the first floor will have a dispensary (counter), a waiting room, a kitchen (to produce “marijuana infused products,”) and a 6 by 9 foot safe with six-inch concrete walls around it that will hold product and money.

“Everything has to be managed, everything,” Mr. Rose said. “The second floor is where cultivation and processing occurs,” and there will be a vegetation room, a trim room, a dry and cure room, and a packaging area.

Mr. Rose said he requires “an extensive amount” of lighting, dehumidification, and air conditioning, which translates into “30 tons of HVAC” and 54, one-thousand watt lights in the flower and cultivation room alone.

Mr. Rose also requires lab space, which is the reason he wants to abandon the 505 State Road site as the small size there does not meet his needs. Due to federal law, Mr. Rose may not transport his product over the federal waters between the Island and the mainland, therefore he will be producing and testing his own products. Other mainland producers would use existing mainland labs.

There was confusion as to why Mr. Rose cannot use the original 505 State Road location, 0.3 miles from the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School at 424 State Road, but that site was never approved.

“He had to use an address to apply to the state, and he used that (505) State Road address to apply to the state,” Mr. Schubert said. “At this point, the state believes that if he changes [his operation] that he’s using that address.”

“I’m a little confused,” Ms. Manter said. She owns some light industrial property that abuts 90 Doctor Fisher Road, and she also lives very close to the area.

“When you apply for a license through the state saying you’re having (a business) in a particular location, then you get a license, but you never really had any intention of using that location. Now that you got your license, you’re going to go for someplace else. I find that very deceitful. Is the license for that location, or is it his license and he can have [his business] anywhere?”

“I am for medical marijuana, I am not for it in that area,” Ms. Manter said.

Neighbor Dan Larkosh disagreed. “I don’t think you could pick a more perfect location for what Geoff is trying to do,” he said. But Mr. Larkosh also had reservations. “Lights on 24/7 would have an impact. I like the night sky,” Mr. Larkosh said.

Neighbors weigh in
The ZBA hearing was packed, and many in the crowd were from the Doctor Fisher Road neighborhood. Their biggest concerns were the likely 24/7 required bright lights surrounding the facility, the inevitable increase in traffic, the possibility, which Mr. Rose vehemently denied, of the medical dispensary turning into a recreational retail store, the enormous HVAC system that will generate significant noise, and the inability of the dilapidated and narrow road to handle the increased traffic.

“There is one way in and one way out,” Ms. Manter said.

The catch-22 about the road is that residents like it the way it is, because its poor condition keeps other people from using it as a “cut through.”

“If we want to build something on our property, we have to go in front of National Heritage for Endangered Species – we can’t have broadcast lighting, there are endangered moths that people are concerned about – I don’t care what they say, [the dispensary] is going to be well lit, and it will be all night long – there’s no getting around it – it’s going to be a requirement,” neighbor Chris Egan said.

“I applaud Geoff Rose for everything he’s done,” Farley Pedler said. He also lives on Doctor Fisher Road. Mr. Pedler added, however, that he and his two young girls “walk Doctor Fisher Road every day.”

There was a suggestion that privacy may be necessary for those walking into a medical marijuana dispensary, and that itself justifies the very private, and dark, location of 90 Doctor Fisher Road. Others disagreed.

“I don’t think I would know who was going in for medical marijuana and who wasn’t. I have other things going on in my life, I don’t pay attention, I mind my own business,” Ms. Manter said.

“The mission of Patient Centric of MV is to provide the highest quality cannabis in a safe and dignified setting,” Mr. Rose said, and added “only to qualified patients by appointment.”

The zoning board of appeals voted to continue the hearing March 23 at 5:15 pm. The Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC) will review the dispensary location next.

In related news, the front page of this week’s MV Times reports Marijuana use at MVRHS is well above state and national averages.

The Boston Globe on Feb. 24 asks, Will Trump crack down on marijuana?