Pot, cottage industry at issue in Conway hearing

CONWAY — Townspeople will be asked to weigh in on proposed changes to the town’s zoning bylaws involving cottage industries and medical marijuana dispensaries in town.

The changes are designed to promote growth, support retail development and the renovation of large houses into apartments, town planners said.

The proposals are a result of a year’s work by the Planning Board, which received help from the Franklin Regional Council of Governments.

One of the most significant changes is regulation of medical marijuana dispensaries. According to the proposal, medical marijuana cultivation and processing would be allowed by special permit by the Planning Board in the rural residential/agricultural district and the light industrial district.

Medical marijuana facilities can be located anywhere in town except where they conflict with the state rule banning them from within 500 feet of a school or where they alter the character of the neighborhood, which would be determined by the town planners.

Under the new zoning, cottage industries — anything from a candy store to a weaving studio — would have to follow rules set by square footage

Under the new zoning, cottage industries with up to 6,000 square feet of enclosed floor area are allowed by right with a site plan review. Cottage industries between 6,000 square feet and 10,000 square feet may be allowed with a special permit by the Planning Board.

Home-based businesses would be allowed as long as the business doesn’t take up more than half of the home.

In the past, cottage industries and home-based businesses were allowed anywhere in town as long as they did not have more than 15 employees and 50 customers a day.

Originally, the Planning Board proposed creating a new village center zoning district. But townspeople rejected the idea at an informational meeting in October, arguing the town needs to address other issues, like village septic systems, first.

The public hearing is Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Town Hall.

The revised bylaws will be voted on at town meeting in May.

You can reach Kathleen McKiernan at: kmckiernan@recorder.com or 413-772-0261 ext. 268.

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