Zoning changes for Shrewsbury discussed
By K.B. Sherman, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – The Shrewsbury Board of Selectmen discussed during its Aug. 13 meeting several proposed changes to town zoning that, if approved, will appear on the warrant for the fall special Town Meeting.
Shrewsbury Principal Planner and Economic Development Coordinator Kristen Las reviewed the proposed changes. Overall, the thesis is for the town to make better use of its land to benefit both residential and business areas. Already discussed by the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals, this review for the selectmen was the next step.
Among the issues discussed was rezoning an area of land abutting the mall at 420 Boston Turnpike, and two other land parcels, from residential to commercial use. Also introduced were proposals for three zoning amendments that would increase the town's business tax base.
Zoning changes to enable Shrewsbury to hold a farmers” market on commercial land, and to allow outdoor retail sales and entertainment, which now requires a special permit from the Board of Appeals, is also being considered.
For residential areas, another zoning change would simplify the addition of a second story to an existing, one-story house for residents who seek more room but want to remain living in town.
The issue that created the longest discussion involved zoning for the production and sale of medical marijuana. Since the voters had approved the legalization of medical marijuana, each town has been forced to confront how this should be done. A letter from the state attorney general makes it clear that no town in Massachusetts has the freedom to opt-out of establishing marijuana zoning, as several towns have tried to do.
Board members Maurice DePalo, John Lebeaux, and Moira Miller had a number of questions for Town Manager Daniel Morgado on how to best proceed. Morgado replied that since this issue was new to Massachusetts, most towns were still in the initial stages of dealing with the issue. Lebeaux mentioned that every precinct in Shrewsbury had voted to legalize medical marijuana, and thus the board had no choice but to go forward.
The discussion then evolved into how to work into the warrant article taking as long as a year to come up with appropriate zoning for the production, sale, and use of the plant. The board voted to send this issue back to the Planning Board for their approval. The final articles have to be approved by the selectmen before they can be placed on the town meeting warrant.
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