Citizens petition bringing 3 Medical marijuana bylaws to Town Meeting

by beth on March 1, 2016

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Above: Residents will ask Town Meeting to approve bylaws on marijuana, including prohibition of recreational dispensaries (Image posted to flickr by mark)

Last night, residents brought forward citizens petitions on Medical Marijuana bylaws. The Board of Selectmen agreed to reopen the Warrant to add the articles for the Annual Town Meeting.

An article to keep dispensaries 1,000 feet from schools and abutters is partly aimed at stopping the dispensary proposed at 255 Turnpike Road.

Chair John Rooney warned that ship may have already sailed.

CommCan has already filed with the Zoning Board of Appeals. Therefore, Rooney didn’t believe the bylaw could apply retroactively. But he admitted that was outside of his wheelhouse.

Petitioner Kevin Hoolihan indicated he is hoping that since the project is yet to be approved, revised, retroactive, bylaws can apply.

Meanwhile, Selectman Paul Cimino did assure the public that the applicant has kept its pledge to research alternative sites in town.

Unfortunately, they have yet to find another location that works. Cimino said they’ve even received some invitations. But so far, properties were outside of the current zoning or had “other deficiencies”.

Hoolahan said his articles aren’t just about location.

One “forward looking” article is in light of potential state legalization of recreational use “which scares the living daylights out of me”. The bylaw would limit zoned dispensaries to medical only.

Southborough Wicked Local also covered the meeting and revealed that a third restriction would limit the hours to 8:00 am – 2:30 pm or by appointment.

Cimino remarked that the restrictive location, especially the buffer to residences, was what Special Town Meeting rejected in 2013. He was concerned about its likelihood of success.

Selectman Dan Kolenda disagreed:

I’m quite confident you’re going to have a much different group of citizens joining for this particular issue.

Rooney informed the petitioners, that they have more steps to take before they can present the articles at Town Meeting. Because they are requesting changes to zoning bylaws, they need to hold public hearings through the Planning Board.

1 Alan March 3, 2016 at 1:49 PM

This is why people go to the town meeting. We discussed and voted on all these issues in the last town meeting.

2 SB Resident March 3, 2016 at 2:50 PM

“Cimino remarked that the restrictive location, especially the buffer to residences, was what Special Town Meeting rejected in 2013”

That is not at all what happened in 2013. At Special Town Meeting in 2013, the only vote that occurred was to postpone, the vote to postpone passed mostly because a large portion in attendance were there for another issue and wanted to get to it faster.

It was evident to me at the time that if a vote were to have occurred, the restrictive zoning would have passed, which is why the vote to postpone was put forth. Better to delay to continue the fight outside of town meeting.

3 beth March 3, 2016 at 11:19 PM

I disagree with both of you. My impression was that many people were unhappy. The strongest, most vocal were in favor of wider zoning. But there were some others concerned it wasn’t restrictive enough. I don’t think there’s any way of knowing how many silent voters were on which side of that issue.

Mostly, people complained it was too rushed with last minute change. So people supported the decision to table it for further vetting. I don’t believe majority of voters simply wanted to move on because of agenda. (Though, I’m sure there was a contingent that did.)

Between that meeting and the April Town Meeting, I believe Mr. Cimino continued to seek compromise and consensus. But while he continued to hear from those (like the Board of Health) that wanted more reasonable access for a facility, I don’t believe he heard from people on the other side of the argument. I don’t recall hearing at Planning Board meetings/hearings comments calling for stricter zoning.

And when I shared details of the zoning (including a map) on the blog in advance of hearings and Town Meeting, no one posted comments about the zoning being too close to homes or schools. So, I understand where Mr. Cimino’s impression came from.

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