By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter
Shrewsbury –The Board of Selectmen resumed discussions relevant to bylaws for retail recreational marijuana at their Feb. 27 meeting. After a split vote Feb. 13, defeating an opt-out only Special Town Meeting, the Board came to an agreement to hold one Monday, April 23, that will include both options.
“We are where we are and the reality is we need to move on …I would make a recommendation to call a Special Town Meeting to bring [both] articles as amended this evening as soon as its reasonable,” Selectman Jim Kane proposed after a discussion of draft bylaws (zoning and general) were presented by Town Manager Kevin Mizikar.
“It should be noted that we continue to recommend restricting the number of retail establishments to two, and further, staff is prepared to discuss language for the zoning bylaw to close the loophole identified by the city of Worcester for consumption of marijuana in private clubs,” stated Mizikar.
At their Feb. 13 meeting, Kane and Selectman Beth Casavant were previously in favor of the opt-out only Special Town Meeting while selectmen Maurice DePalo and Moira Miller were advocates of offering both options. The original Special Town Meeting was tabled because they could not agree at that time.
One of the prevailing arguments used in favor of the opt-out only option was that the town voted 55 to 45 against Ballot Question 4 in the November 2016 General Election. Each of Shrewsbury’s 10 precincts were opposed to Question 4.
The proposed amendments include several options.
The draft opt-out zoning bylaw will amend the current zoning bylaw by prohibiting recreational marijuana establishments in all zoning districts and by deleting the temporary moratorium on such establishments and amend the general bylaws by prohibiting recreational marijuana establishments in the town of Shrewsbury.
The general bylaw opt-out component’s language includes marijuana cultivators, independent testing laboratories, marijuana product manufacturers, marijuana retailers, or any other type of marijuana-related businesses, but not medical marijuana dispensaries or treatment centers.
The draft regulatory zoning bylaw’s language includes amending the zoning bylaw by allowing recreational marijuana establishments in certain zoning districts and by deleting the temporary moratorium on such establishments.
A warrant for the April 23 Special Town Meeting will be ready for the selectmen at their next meeting, Tuesday, March 13. Also included will be items to cover public consumption as well as setting the sales tax. The amended bylaws will be available on the town’s website within the next couple of weeks.