Medical Marijuana

Drive-throughs find favor at Bernardston hearing

BERNARDSTON — Drive-through restaurants in parts of town are A-OK with those who attended a hearing on the matter, according to the chairwoman of the Planning Board.

“We proposed allowing drive-through or drive-in restaurants in the town’s industrial district,” said Christine Wysk, Planning Board chairwoman. “People seemed to think that was a good place for a drive-through.”

Drive-throughs are currently allowed by special permit in the town’s business and expedited permitting districts, said Wysk.

Though far fewer drive-in restaurants exist now than, say, in the 1950s, the term was included in the proposal just in case, she said. Though other zoning changes and amendments were proposed, the drive-through issue appeared to have the most potential for contention.

There is also a proposed one-year moratorium on medical marijuana facilities, suggested by selectmen after it was discovered that an all-out ban on the centers they’d proposed was illegal.

“The rest is basically a lot of housekeeping stuff,” explained Wysk.

One measure would correct a mistake made when a 2010 zoning change was adopted.

“Somehow, when we added the expedited permitting and business districts along South Street, the center village residential zone got extended.”

Though it was an unintended adjustment, she said, the change was approved by town meeting, cementing the mistake.

“We’re just correcting what was erroneously done,” she said.

The board has also been trying to add definitions for restaurants to the bylaws. The current wording is confusing, and appears to ban all restaurants in most of the town’s zones, including the center village residential district, where several currently operate.

The bylaw prohibits “restaurants, including take-out or drive-through,” from several districts. The language was changed to “restaurant, drive-in or drive-through” in the proposal.

“All restaurants offer take-out,” so it doesn’t make sense to regulate take-out service differently, said Wysk.

Another proposal would strike the word “residential” from the center village residential district, better indicating that several types of businesses are allowed there by-right, said Wysk.

A table of contents for the town’s zoning bylaws has also been proposed, to help people and businesses navigate the regulations.

Wysk said all the proposals will be brought up for a vote at the next special town meeting, the date of which is to be determined.

David Rainville can be reached at:
or 413-772-0261, ext. 279

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