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Cannabis news -- Hadley pursues zoning bylaws for recreational marijuana


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Hadley pursues zoning bylaws for recreational marijuana

HADLEY — Businesses interested in selling recreational marijuana and farmers who might grow the product could be guided by a new zoning bylaw.

While the Planning Board has been drafting the language to add to the town’s zoning bylaws, titled “Adult Use Marijuana Establishments,” it’s not yet certain if the bylaw will be ready for the special Town Meeting scheduled for Oct. 18.

Planning Board Clerk William Dwyer said the bylaw is being prepared with a consultant from the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, which wrote a model bylaw communities can implement and adapt.

The Planning Board will hold a hearing on the bylaw Oct. 16 at 7:15 p.m. at the Hadley Senior Center meeting room. After getting feedback, Dwyer said the board will make a recommendation, which could be that voters approve the bylaw or pass over it if more time is needed to write the language of the bylaw.

The special Town Meeting will also have an article to extend the existing moratorium on any adult-use establishments, which already runs through Nov. 30, until June 1, 2019. That would get the town through annual Town Meeting. Other articles would place a cap on the number of recreational retail businesses in the general bylaw and enact a $300 fine for public consumption of marijuana.

Dwyer said having a bylaw is about getting ahead of the curve and being prepared for those who are interested in the recreational marijuana business.

The draft bylaw will inform entrepreneurs and farmers where they can sell and grow, and amends the table of uses to show the zoning districts where such activities are allowed and not allowed, and whether a special permit or site plan review is needed. Essentially, Dwyer said, there will be some places where marijuana can be grown and some places where it can be sold.

“The bylaw is set up so retail is in the business district,” Dwyer said.

The bylaw would place certain restrictions on the size of the business, prohibit drive-through sales and mandate ventilation systems.

The cap on retailers, as written in the zoning and general bylaw, states that such retailers “shall not exceed 20 percent of the number of licenses issued within the town for the retail sale of alcoholic beverages not to be drunk on the premises.” Because there are seven of these businesses, there could be two marijuana retailers.

Dwyer said one complication is so-called craft marijuana, where a farmer cultivates and sells from the same site, may not be possible. Marijuana growing is not protected as an agricultural use, but he points out that harvesting marijuana may match a skill set that already exists in town.

This week, several residents from the area of Shattuck Road, where a possible marijuana grow facility has been discussed, came to the Planning Board meeting to offer input on the prototype bylaw. That states that all grow facilities should be indoors, though this may conflict with the idea of using existing buildings to grow marijuana.

Residents also liked the idea of a 300-foot setback from any property line out of concern for odor.

A separate bylaw on medical marijuana is already on the books. So far, only one medical marijuana business has been approved, at an old Sunoco gas station on Route 9 near the Amherst town line. That business has a building permit and signed a host community agreement, but will need an amendment to its site plans it intends to do recreational sales.

Town Administrator David Nixon informed the Select Board that the Board of Health has completed health regulations related to marijuana and will hold its own public hearing on these this month, as well.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at [email protected]

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