, Newburyport, MA

Local News

September 12, 2013

Salisbury to discuss zoning for medical marijuana facilities


One of the conditions is that the moratorium be temporary and of only a “reasonable length” of time that allows for research, development and implementation of the special zoning, Harrington said.

Selectman Fred Knowles was adamant about not wanting a moratorium.

“Maybe someone is in need of medical marijuana because they’re in a great deal of pain,” Knowles said.

In addition, he said, the legalization of the medicinal use of marijuana came through a ballot question that was approved by nearly a super-majority of the people in the state. Knowles said he didn’t want a moratorium because it might be considered moving against the will of the people.

In Salisbury, the questions passed by a vote of 2,794 in favor and 1,317 against on the Nov. 6, 2012 ballot.

However, whether a moratorium is part of Salisbury’s process or not, Harrington recommended selectmen contact the Planning Board about creating the new zoning to accommodate the issue. If not, he warned, an approved facility will be able to site pretty much anywhere in town once the state gives it OK, according to the law regulating the measure.

Since the final say on implementing a planning moratorium or creating new zoning ultimately rests with Town Meeting, Harrington said investigating either or both options requires quick movement in order to meet the deadlines for the fall Town Meeting.

Selectman Donald Beaulieu said a moratorium would be needed to give the town time to create related zoning. He felt it was “incumbent” upon selectmen to take precautions.

“If we don’t establish some parameters, (the interested party) can put it anywhere he wants,” Beaulieu said. “We need to sit down and develop a plan.”

The legislation allows five medical marijuana facilities to be located in Essex County, with at least 16 applicants hopeful of being chosen as the fortunate ones to get the nod. So far on a statewide basis, 181 applications were submitted to the state as part of the first phase of review of all the proposals.

Beaulieu offered the motion, which all approved, to request a combined workshop with the Planning Board and representatives of Kopelman and Paige, to help town officials navigate through what he called “the morass” of the medical marijuana legislation and regulations.

As if yesterday afternoon, the meeting date had not be finalized.

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