Retail marijuana zoning process underway in Greenfield

  • The Greenfield City Council has started the process of establishing regulations for the city. Recorder FILE PHOTO/Paul Franz

Recorder Staff
Friday, May 18, 2018

GREENFIELD — The City Council started the process for finalizing zoning for marijuana establishments, paving the way for regulations to be completed before a moratorium on pot expires July 1.

The council voted to initiate the process Wednesday, which includes a joint public hearing between the council and Planning Board. An amendment proposed by Councilor Isaac Mass, which would have included houses of worship and pre-kindergarten schools among the buildings where marijuana cannot be sold near, however, failed to get the votes to be added to the ordinance.

The ordinance was drafted by the Planning Board, which started its process in March. The draft ordinance controls many aspects of marijuana and sales and cultivation.

Among the regulations, the ordinance puts a 100-foot buffer between recreational marijuana establishments and schools from kindergarten to high school. Mass’ amendment would have added pre-existing houses of worships, like churches, as well as pre-kindergarten schools and colleges to the list of places within the buffer zone, but the council voted it down.

During the meeting, Mass said no one wants marijuana establishments near preschools or places or worship, which his amendment would have ensured. He also said the amendment would have created stricter regulations, which could be reduced later if needed.

Several councilors spoke against the amendment, including Sheila Gilmour, who said accepting the amendment would go against the desire of those who voted for marijuana sales in the city.

“I think it was over three-fourths of residents who chose to vote voted for this,” Gilmour said.

“By limiting what our voters said they want based on religious reasons,” Gilmour said the council would not be following the spirit of the law.

The amendment failed, with six councilors voting against to four councilors voting in favor of it. One councilor abstained from the vote and another was not present.

The ordinance also allows as many as eight retail establishments within the city, though all would need special permits from the Planning Board.

Other regulations include in which zones marijuana establishments are allowed.

Any kind of establishment, whether cultivation, recreational or medical, are not allowed in suburban residential, urban residential and semi-residential zones. Rural residential zones can have cultivation, though the sites must be less than 5,000 square feet.

Other zones in the city could have certain types of establishments within them, depending on the type and zone.

According to Kathy Scott, administrative assistant for the city clerk, City Council and Planning Board now have 65 days to hold a public hearing on the ordinance, according to Massachusetts General Law.

Council’s economic development committee and the Planning Board will hold a joint public hearing on the ordinance June 12. The Planning Board will then have 21 days to send any recommendations to City Council before the ordinance is voted on.

Scott said though, city officials expect the process to be completed before the moratorium on recreational marijuana sales ends July 1.

You can reach Dan Desrochers
at: ddesrochers@recorder.com