TRURO — Stephanie Rein, a select board member and co-owner of Out There Grown, has withdrawn her application for a cannabis farm on Old Bridge Road, giving in to pressure from her neighbors.
Out There Grown and Pure Joy Farm, both members of the cannabis-growing High Dune Craft Cooperative, had applied for site plan approval from the Truro Planning Board for an ambitious proposal calling for both indoor and outdoor growing areas, two sheds for drying, two trailers for storage, and a commercial kitchen in an existing house where the cannabis would be processed into a variety of infused products.
While the growing and processing were to take place at 23 Old Bridge Road, the adjacent property at 21 Old Bridge Road was needed to meet the town’s minimum lot size of 1.5 acres and provide access to number 23.
Both properties are owned by Debra McCulloch Hopkins, who is a principal in Pure Joy Farm.
Hopkins will move forward alone with a more modest proposal that won’t involve growing. Rein and her husband, Arthur Bosworth, who live less than a mile away from the grow site on Holsbery Road, were going to cultivate the marijuana at 23 Old Bridge Road.
Hopkins now plans to use an existing kitchen to create cannabis-infused products, said her attorney, Michael Fee. He asked the planning board at its June 8 meeting to give her about two months to tweak the proposal and meet with neighbors. The hearing was continued until Aug. 10.
Rein leveled some harsh criticism at the Old Bridge Road neighbors when she withdrew her application.
“It appears many of my neighbors want to live in a vacation retirement community with no opportunity for any local economic development,” she said.
Rein said she is not only a small cannabis farmer but is also an educator, organic farmer, and select board member, as well as a property manager and owner of a housecleaning business.
“I wear all these hats to afford to live here and contribute to my community,” Rein said.
She told opponents of the cannabis proposal that their objections were unfounded and based on “fear-mongering and a lack of consideration for the lives of your neighbors.”
Odor was the chief concern, she said, adding, “The cannabis grown today smells more like blueberries, or more of an earthy, savory smell.”
To neighbors’ complaints that a marijuana farm would draw potential intruders who would find security at the operation too tight to penetrate and in frustration would break into other homes in the neighborhood, Rein said, “To steal your DVD player from 1991?”
Even though she had been working on the proposal for a cannabis farm for more than six years, Rein said she had to withdraw her application because she didn’t have the financial means for a legal battle.
“Our neighbors have made it quite clear they will oppose this project at all costs and will use their superior financial resources to drag this out indefinitely,” she said.
Several Old Bridge Road residents had submitted letters of opposition to the planning board. Diane and James Hirshberg, who live in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. and own the house at 14 Old Bridge Road, wrote that the road to the farm was a private way that couldn’t handle the kind of traffic they believed would be generated by the cannabis business.
“Our attorneys feel that it is settled law in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts that this increased traffic would constitute an ‘overburden of easement’ as the intention of the easement was solely for residential use,” the Hirshbergs’ letter stated. “A consortium of abutters and neighbors with whom we have spoken all agree to pursue this avenue” to halt plans for a marijuana facility.
The High Dune Craft Cooperative includes four farmers who are licensed by the Mass. Cannabis Control Commission as a craft marijuana cooperative, which allows for cultivation, processing, packaging, and branding of products but no retail sales. Rein remains a member of the cooperative but has withdrawn from this particular proposal.