Claudia Arsenio has owned a farm at 155 Old Fall River Road in Dartmouth since 2013. Arsenio says the soil is too poor and the water table too high to grow much on the farm. She says barns on the property are in disrepair, and efforts to obtain grants to restore them have been unsuccessful.

Old Fall River Road Pot Cultivation Dartmouth
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The property has been used for farming since 1751.

Courtesy Claudia Arsenio
Courtesy Claudia Arsenio
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Arsenio is asking the town's Zoning Board of Appeals to grant her a variance so that she might qualify to apply for the town, state, and federal permits necessary to operate "an enclosed cultivation facility for medical and recreational" marijuana on the property. She is proposing to build an 8,000 square foot facility.

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It's a lengthy process, and Arsenio has already run into a bushel of opposition from some residents.

Old Fall River Road Dartmouth Pot Grow Facility
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One major obstacle Arsenio faces is that the property, located at the intersection with Faunce Corner Road, stands just outside the Marijuana Overlay District established by the town.

Old Fall River Rd. Dartmouth Pot Grow Facility
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The Zoning Board of Appeals has not yet indicated how it might rule but did grant a variance for a now-withdrawn proposal for a grow facility on State Road rejected twice by Town Meeting members. The Dartmouth Agricultural Commission has recommended against approval. Arsenio is hopeful but understands hers is an uphill battle.

Old Fall River Rd. Dartmouth Pot Grow Facility
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Arsenio says reports she plans to operate a marijuana retail operation on the property "are simply not true," and town bylaws prevent a residential property from being within 500 feet of a marijuana cultivation facility. That might mean she would have to vacate the home she currently occupies on the property.

Old Fall River Road Dartmouth
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Arsenio says she would "let the house be office space and dry rooms etc." for the non-profit, that would operate the cultivation center as a 501c3 "non-medicinal plant farm."

Dartmouth Right to Farm Community
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Arsenio believes her proposal fits neatly within Community Preservation Committee guidelines and complies with agricultural preservation restrictions. She points out that Dartmouth is a "Right to Farm Community" and that her plan meets the qualifications needed for the use variance.

Old Fall River Road Dartmouth, pot grow facility
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As a woman farmer, Arsenio says she is considered a minority with the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) "which was created to give women and other minorities an opportunity in an industry otherwise out of reach."

Old Fall River Road Dartmouth, pot grow facility
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The Zoning Board of Appeals conducted a hearing on Arsenio's request for a variance on March 9 but reached no conclusions. That hearing is set to resume on March 23.

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