Planning Board to Review Medical Marijuana Zoning: Will Make Recommendation to City Council for Passage

March 28, 2014
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The Everett City Council sent a new Medical Marijuana zoning by-law to the Planning Board Monday night which, if adopted, will establish where medical marijuana dispensaries and growing facilities could locate in the city.

Ever since the state’s medical marijuana law was passed by voters in November 2012, municipal bodies around the state have been attempting to set regulations on where and how many such facilities can locate in their communities.

After taking advantage of a state approved moratorium on locating dispensaries in Everett last year, the city must now adopt legislation that allows a process and designates locations where such facilities can open and operate in Everett.

As the city’s legislative branch, the City Council will be responsible for passing the new zoning. However, since the Planning Board has the responsibility of proposing all changes to the zoning code, the new zoning language must first go to the Planning Board for a public hearing and their recommendations.

Once the Planning Board makes a recommendation on the zoning changes, the City Council can begin its process, which will also include a public hearing, and possible amendments by the Council, before passage.

In a summary of the proposed new ordinance, City Solicitor Colleen Mejia explained the potential benefits and purpose of the proposed ordinance.

Passage of a zoning ordinance will help ensure that the city remains in compliance with state law, while also helping to steer such facilities to more appropriate areas of the city.

The new ordinance calls for all medical marijuana dispensaries to submit to a Special Permit process, with the Planning Board as the Special Permit granting authority, as it is with other special permits under the code.

All applications for these special permits must include specific information including: names of all owners, partners and employees; traffic mitigation; articles of organization as a non-profit; proof of right to use proposed properties as a medical marijuana treatment facility; and a security plan.

The proposed new ordinance will also require a public hearing on each proposed medical marijuana facility to be sited within the city, conformance with a list of Planning Board special conditions, an outside consultant’s fee, and annual reporting, among other requirements