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Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana zoning on Montague meeting agenda

MONTAGUE — A special town meeting at the end of the month will ask voters to decide whether to implement medical marijuana zoning, a day before the state announces its list of approved marijuana dispensary developers.

The proposed zoning addition developed by the Town Planner and Planning Board would limit medical marijuana dispensaries, nurseries and processing facilities to the town’s existing commercial and industrial zones.

The proposed zoning is more restrictive than standard business zoning but less so than the state guidelines. Many of the buffers established in the state Department of Public Health’s default guidelines are left up to the discretion of the board.

The proposed development zones are the general business, central business, industrial and historic industrial zones.

These cover: the portion of the Power Canal island from the former Strathmore Mill and former Indek power plant to the former Railroad Salvage; most of Avenue A with sections of Third and First streets; the area of the Farren Care Center and the start of Sherman Drive on Montague City Road in Montague City; the area of the planned Turnpike Road Industrial Park and current Judd Wire and Highway Department facilities off Sandy Lane; a stretch of land from the Airport Industrial Park to Swamp Road, roughly circumscribed by Turners Falls and Lake Pleasant roads; an area of downtown Millers Falls near and including the railroad track triangle the northern end of the village; and a sliver of land along Federal Street by Hannegan Brook in the village of Lake Pleasant.

The Board of Selectmen have already endorsed applications from two potential developers interested in locating a dispensary in Montague. The first was Absolute Medical Resources, headed by Greenfield businessman and liquor store owner Michael F. Ruggeri, the second a group under the name A New Leaf including Australis fish farm CEO Joshua Goldman.

Also on the warrant for the special town meeting is a request from the Montague Economic Development and Industrial Corp. to be permitted to use money previously approved to renovate the former Cumberland Farms by the Great Falls Discovery Center to instead demolish the building, should Montague Community Cable be unable to buy the property. Closing out the agenda are $20,000 to supplement the police budget and $15,000 to refurbish and make handicapped accessible the Unity Park restrooms and $5,000 for legal expenses related to negotiations with town cable provider Comcast.

The meeting is scheduled for Jan. 30 in the Turners Falls High School theater at 7 p.m.

As always, registered Montague voters may speak but only elected town meeting representatives may vote.

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