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Northborough Town Meeting approves moratorium on recreational marijuana

By Melanie Petrucci, Contributing Writer

Northborough –Northborough’s Annual Town Meeting, held April 24 at Algonquin Regional High School, passed two zoning bylaws pertaining to recreational marijuana and duplex development respectively.

Article 52, which was relevant to a temporary moratorium on recreational marijuana sales in Northborough, passed with little discussion. Planning Board member Michelle Gillespie gave a presentation in support of this bylaw.

“For our local control, municipalities may adopt ordinances and bylaws regulating the time, place and manner of operations of marijuana establishments. This Planning Board is recommending the adoption of a one year, temporary moratorium for recreational marijuana establishment that is defined as a cultivator, marijuana testing facility, a marijuana product manufacturer, marijuana retailer or any other type of licensed marijuana related business,” she said.

“The temporary moratorium will provide the time for the town boards to discuss and review cannabis control regulations,” she added. “The [state’s] Cannabis Control Commission has not yet been formed and no regulations for these licenses have been adopted by the state.”

The moratorium will go into effect until June 30, 2018. The article was unanimously supported by the Planning Board and Municipal Code and Bylaw Committee. It passed with the required 2/3rd majority vote.

Article 53 which called for an amendment to the zoning bylaws to include a temporary moratorium on two-family dwellings, or duplexes, passed in spite of requests from the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals to pass over the article.

The original warrant article stated, “There is an identifiable community need to establish long term zoning regulations to ensure that such structures are consistent with the existing neighborhoods and the town’s long term planning interests.”  Adopting the warrant article would allow the town sufficient time to address these issues, supporters noted.

Planning Board member George Plember said, “Quite frankly, the Planning Board was perplexed on how to deal with this and we couldn’t come to any kind of conclusion….we wanted to get the input of the Master Plan Committee before we came back to the town to seek specific changes in the bylaws.”

Fran Bakstran, chair of the Zoning Board of Appeals commented, “We just said that we are going to give the state a year on regulations that we can abide by [regarding marijuana]. And shouldn’t we give our town the same time for our boards and committees and citizens to come up with zoning and bylaws that will address this as it will have an impact on the character of the community. The duplexes going up are not affordable.”

Plember argued that the article needed more study and that the Planning Board did not unanimously support this article.

However, the motion to pass over the article failed.

Moderator Frederick George, Jr. then proceeded to call for the vote for the article as originally written. He requested the tellers to re-count the votes to confirm its successful passage with the required 2/3rd’s vote.

Community Advocate Staff :