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December 6, 2013

Council to discuss pot farm delay Dec. 17

AMESBURY – A special meeting of the City Council has been scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 17 to hold a public hearing on a proposed moratorium on medical marijuana development.

The meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. in City Hall Auditorium, and the councilors are expected to take a vote on the proposal at the conclusion of the public hearing.

The moratorium was proposed by Councilor Donna McClure, who is requesting that the city implement a temporary ban on medical marijuana development so that Amesbury will have time to study the issue and enact new zoning protections regulating the fledgling industry.

If approved, the moratorium would run through June 30, 2014.

The council held a special meeting on Wednesday night to conduct its first reading of the moratorium bill, and after a brief discussion the council voted 5-1 in favor of forwarding the moratorium proposal to committee and to the Planning Board while scheduling the second reading and public hearing for Dec. 17.

Councilors McClure, James Kelcourse, Derek Kimball, Joe McMilleon and Bob Lavoie voted in favor of scheduling the special meeting, and Council President Anne Ferguson voted against it. Councilors Bob Gilday, Christian Scorzoni and Allen Neale were not in attendance.

With the approval, the Ordinance Committee will discuss the issue at its Dec. 10 meeting, prior to the regularly scheduled City Council meeting, and McClure said she’d be reaching out to Planning Board Chairman Howard Dalton to see when the Planning Board could pick up the issue.

“I’d like to have is another public hearing on this, especially for the abutters because there’s no requirement by the town to notify the abutters on this issue,” McClure said. “Many of the folks who are abutting these facilities, they really don’t know this is happening.”

There are currently two organizations known to be interested in establishing cultivation facilities in Amesbury. One is Alternative Therapies Group Inc., which is a Newburyport-based non-profit looking into a property on South Hunt Road, and the other is Green Heart Health and Pharmaceuticals, which is reportedly looking at property at 10 Industrial Way.

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