Pubdate: Sun, 25 Feb 2018
Source: Worcester Telegram & Gazette (MA)
Copyright: 2018 Worcester Telegram & Gazette
Author: Nick Kotsopoulos


WORCESTER - City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. wants to ban 
recreational marijuana retail stores, cultivators, manufacturers and
related establishments from all residential-zoned areas and preclude
them from being located within 500 feet of schools, public parks,
playgrounds, licensed day care centers and public libraries.

Under zoning amendments being recommended by Mr. Augustus,
recreational marijuana establishments would only be allowed by special
permit in areas zoned for manufacturing and business uses, as well as
in Institutional-Hospital zones and in the Airport zone, which
includes the industrial park next to Worcester Regional Airport.

The special permit for such establishments would be issued by the
Planning Board, which would review the appropriateness of each
proposed site.

City Solicitor David M. Moore said the process would allow people to
be notified about proposed recreational marijuana establishments and
provide an opportunity for public comment, as well as allow the
Planning Board to set conditions.

In addition, to prevent the proliferation of marijuana storefront
retailers in certain areas of the city, the zoning regulations would
prevent any such store from being located within 500 feet of another
marijuana establishment.

The zoning amendment also would create a new use classification to
address an apparent loophole in the state law that allows marijuana to
be consumed on site, but not purchased, in a members-only social club.
City officials said such a loophole enabled such a private social club
to open recently on Water Street without any kind of city review or

While the sale of marijuana for on-site consumption is not presently
allowed, the on-site consumption of marijuana at private clubs does
not appear to be prohibited by current state regulations, according to
Mr. Augustus.

Mr. Moore said the proposed zoning amendment refines the definition
for social clubs by creating a new use classification for those
private clubs that allow marijuana to be consumed on the premises by
its members.

He said the ordinance change would require such social clubs to obtain
a special permit from the Planning Board, just as any marijuana
retailer will have to obtain a special permit.

The city manager's zoning recommendations will go before the City
Council Tuesday night. He is asking that the amendments be referred to
the Planning Board to begin the formal consideration process.

Mr. Augustus said the establishment of zoning regulations concerning
the local and operation of marijuana establishments is an important
step in appropriately regulating those uses.

"The proposed regulations meet our community's needs by providing
adequate opportunities for the location of legal marijuana
establishments, ensuring that such uses are not overly concentrated in
any single area, and providing a process by which proposed
establishments are closely examined during the permitting process," he
wrote in a report to the City Council.

In November 2016, Massachusetts voters approved a referendum
legalizing the cultivation, sale and use of recreational marijuana in
the state.

Under state law, Worcester is required to facilitate the establishment
of up to 15 regulated marijuana establishments, which may include
cultivators, laboratories, project manufacturers, retail stores
(off-site consumption only) and related establishments.

Mr. Augustus emphasized that private clubs that allow on-site
consumption of marijuana do not count toward Worcester's quota of 15
recreational marijuana establishments.

The state Cannabis Control Commission is scheduled to begin accepting
applications for marijuana establishments on April 1. Mr. Augustus
said it is important for the city to move forward on relevant zoning
regulations before applications are made for Worcester

He said the city Law Department, working with administrators and staff
from his office as well as the Police Department, Fire Department,
Inspectional Services, Health and Human Services, and Planning and
Regulatory Services, developed the proposed zoning ordinance amendment.

"Staff has evaluated the proposed regulations relative to Worcester's
zoning map and is confident that they strike the right balance"
between community safeguards and opportunities for up to 15 licensed
establishments, Mr. Augustus said.

Under the manager's proposed zoning regulations, recreational
marijuana establishments would be allowed only by special permit in
the following districts:

* Marijuana Independent Testing Laboratory/ Research Facility: Business, 
Manufacturing, Institutional-Hospital and Airport zones.

* Marijuana Product Manufacture: Manufacturing and Airport zones.

* Marijuana Retailer- Storefront/ Delivery Only: Business and 
Manufacturing zones.

* Marijuana Transporter: Manufacturing zones.

* Micro- Business: Manufacturing and Airport zones.

* Club, lodge, other private grounds (nonprofit and private)
allowing on-site consumption of marijuana or marijuana products:
Business and Manufacturing zones.
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