NORTH ANDOVER — A marijuana facility proposed at 1600 Osgood St., will not move forward. The vote on the first article related to zoning changes for the facility at Tuesday night’s Annual Town Meeting went directly to a hand count after some 90 minutes of discussion.

The vote on Article 9, which would have enabled medical marijuana use on the former Lucent plant, went 535 in favor and 384 against, not meeting the two-thirds vote necessary vote to pass.

Subsequently, the petitioner withdrew other related articles for zoning changes that would allow the facility to move forward.

More than 800 voting members attended North Andover Annual Town Meeting, filling the North Andover High School auditorium, and overflowing into the hallway and cafeteria. 

By the ninth article, it became clear why. People lined up to the microphone to voice opinions on the proposed marijuana facility at 1600 Osgood. 

The Board of Selectmen, who had deferred action until Tuesday night, came out with a favorable vote for the project.

Selectmen Richard Vaillancourt and Rosemary Smedile voted against, and Selectmen Phil DeCologero, Regina Kean, and Chris Nobile voted in favor of the project.

Dissenting selectmen voiced concerns about the late submission of amendments to the articles, some of which came at 4 p.m., Monday.

Supporting selectmen cited their faith in the town’s land use and governing boards ability to completely vet the project.

Article 10, which was intended to authorize the Board of Selectmen and town to negotiate a host community agreement with the property owners, was withdrawn. 

Selectman Richard Vaillancourt indicated the article was redundant, since the board already has that authority. 

Concerns of the project centered around the facility’s potential to draw water from the town, air quality, and the uncertainty on the proportion of space dedicated to research and development versus recreational cultivation.

Support centered around the benefits of medical marijuana and economic benefit to the town.

The lack of two-thirds vote means the medical marijuana overlay district will not be extended to include 1600 Osgood St.

In addition, voters approved an amended moratorium on all recreational institutions in town until November 30, 2018. The original proposed moratorium, Article 12, was intended for June 30, 2018.  

Town Manager Andrew Maylor said he was confident the town would be ready to take a vote to repeal the moratorium by 2018 Annual Town Meeting, and indicated the November date would not impact that.

The moratorium will apply to any future applicants that come before the board. Officials stated this will provide the town time to consider future state recommendations when they come in, which are expected sometime next March.

The marijuana facility articles represented three of 29 articles before voters Tuesday night.

Voters approved a $200,000 transfer from the Special Education Stabilization Fund to the current School Department budget to compensate for unanticipated expenses.

Citizens also approved petitions to allow waivers for the civil service age limit for two citizens to join police officer and firefighter positions in town.

The town signaled its approval of “getting corruption out of politics” by approving The American Anti-Corruption Act, Article 8. 

The Act itself is model legislation supported by an organization called Represent.Us, whose platform includes changing the way votes are cast, ending gerrymandering, and changing election funding rules to promote financial transparency.

After the articles regarding the marijuana facility failed, a number of people left the auditorium, and those who were relegated to an overflow room returned, refilling the space to make their vote on the town general budget, capital improvement plan, school budget, and Community Preservation Committee fund appropriation.

The Capital Improvement Plan includes the proposed unified Kindergarten complex project, and passed unanimously.

The $6.1 million project will be funded with $4 million from town reserves, and $2.1 million from traditional borrowing. Town officials advocated for the project for its ability to reduce classroom size in town.

Currently, North Andover has an average of 23.5 students per classroom, compared to 19.6 statewide.

“It’s fundable and practical,” said Maylor.

The project will create 16 classrooms adjacent to the Early Childhood Center, clearing up classroom space at other elementary schools, and will open by the start of the next school year.

The 29th and final article approved nearly $2 million from the Community Preservation fund for ten projects, including $600,000 for the Middle School Athletic Complex project design.

The Breakdown

YEA: Articles 1-7 and 12-29 passed by voice vote.

Article 8: The American Anti-Corruption Act passed by a hand count 523 in favor, 275 against.

NAY: Article 9, a zoning article that would allow medical marijuana use at 1600 Osgood St., failed to receive two-thirds vote. Subsequently, the petitioner withdrew zoning related Article 11. 

Recommended for you