Letter: Virtual town meetings unfair to many
To the editor:
Recently I had to attend a Becket Planning Board meeting for a Cannabis Growth Facility application by a conference call. It did not go well. The large number of people on the call and the low quality of the phone line app made it almost impossible to understand many of the attendees and much of the information they supplied that evening.
It was bad enough trying to follow this part of the process, but then the agent for the applicants said they would be holding a Zoom meeting for the public outreach meeting on May 27. This is an outrageous disservice for the members of our community who do not have any internet service or a very unstable and weak internet provider as I do. There were perfunctory suggestions of going to Town Hall and sit in your car out front to get the free WIFI in the parking lot, but this is not possible for those of us who have a desktop computer. Or offering to send copies of the plans to us so we can look at them, but we still won't' be able to ask questions and maybe even have them answered in an in-person meeting.
If the applicant and their agent want to be as transparent as they claim, then why not just postpone the outreach meeting and the application until all interested parties can be present.
The entire process of having remote meetings about major impacts and consequences to our neighborhoods is simply wrong. It is victimizing those who cannot afford expensive computer systems or who do not have access to reasonably priced and quality internet service.
It is not a fair and equitable means of having these meetings. In fact, I was so appalled by the Conboys, their agent applicant and the Becket Planning Board promoting these discriminating methods that I wrote the Cannabis Commission to ask for a halt to all applications and outreach meetings until all community members can be present at such meetings.
We should not be punished for not being able to participate in remote Zoom meeting. When the commission issued Administrative Order No. 2, on April 27 for applicants for licensure pursuant to 935 CMR 500.000 and applicants for licensure pursuant to 935 CMR 501.000 M.G.L. c. 94G, M.G.L. c. 94I, it assumed all of Massachusetts residents have access to high speed internet. Well guess what Boston, we don't, and you cannot assume we will go along with being disaffected and dismissed by our any of our local or state legislators regarding remote cannabis meetings.
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