standing Westerly Town Hall

WESTERLY — The Zoning Board of Review will conduct a public hearing Wednesday on a Bradford-based medical marijuana facility's appeal of a cease and desist notice it received in November.

The facility, South County Cultivators Inc., was issued the notice of violation for allegedly operating before it had obtained final zoning approval and failing to install a fence around the cultivation building, a condition of the Zoning Board of Review's approval for the special use permit sought by the company. The notice was issued by Zoning Official Nathan Reichert and Building Official David Murphy.

A Dec. 30 memorandum from Code Enforcement Officer Alonso Vargas to Reichert said the company would need to perform several steps to correct deficiencies that led to the violation notice. The company must install a self-locking mechanism on the security fence, file an amendment to the company's approved plan describing the facility's wastewater plan and explain why a trash receptacle that was originally planned is no longer needed, as well as install a fourth security camera.

Vargas also asked that provisions be put in place to require renewal of the facility's zoning certificate in tandem with its state license renewal to avoid having to perform multiple reviews throughout the year.

South Country Cultivators  Inc. is run by Richard "Rick" Comolli, who serves as president of the company. He is the nephew of George Comolli, one of the owners of Westerly Granite Co. Inc. and property owner at the site of Copar Quarries of Westerly, which operated from 2010-2015. Copar leased the property from Westerly Granite Co. Inc., which provided a mortgage to Copar at a point during its work in Westerly. The Copar period was marked by numerous zoning and regulation violations, enforcement action, and lawsuits.

Elizabeth Noonan, a lawyer with the Adler Pollock & Sheehan law firm of Providence, who represents South Country Cultivators Inc., did not return a message seeking comment for this article.

South County Cultivators Inc. was issued a Class A medical marijuana cultivator license by the state Department of Business Regulation in July. The license class pertains to cultivation facilities that are no more than 5,000 square feet in size.

Medical marijuana cultivators are required to sell the product they grow to the state's three approved dispensaries, which are also known as compassion centers.

Reichert, in a letter to the state Department of Business Regulation, asked the department to suspend or revoke South County Cultivators Inc.'s license based on the company's alleged failure to comply with municipal zoning regulations. According to the department's website, the company's license was active and was not suspended or revoked as of Monday

In 2019, when South County Cultivators Inc. appeared before the Planning Board, Westerly Police Chief Shawn Lacey refused to sign off on the company's plans based on his contention that federal law prohibited medical marijuana facilities.

South County Cultivators Inc. is using a small portion of the 108-acre property owned by Westerly Granite Co. Inc. A portion of the property is being leased to Rawson Materials for quarrying, while another portion is being developed with a solar power array by a solar energy company.

The Wednesday hearing is scheduled as part of the board's meeting, which is slated to begin at 6 p.m. The meeting can be viewed on Zoom at https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83047395913. Participants may also dial 929-205-6099 (toll call) or 877-853-5257 (toll free) and use the meeting code 830 4739 5913 to join.

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