Here's how recreational marijuana could work in Dartmouth

By Shenandoah Briere | Jun 12, 2018
Photo by: Shenandoah Briere Board member John Sousa discusses the bylaw.

With the approaching deadline for Fall Town Meeting, the Planning Board reviewed, but did not approve, proposed regulations for recreational marijuana shops.

The proposed bylaw would provide a set of standards which applicants would need to meet before being granted permission to build a recreational facility in town.

It comes after state residents approved the use of recreational marijuana in 2016, and before the town’s moratorium expires in December. Without the bylaw, once the moratorium expires it will become a “free for all” as far as where applicants can build, according to Planning Board members.

Here is look at what the bylaw potentially could include.

Location, location, location.

Facilities would only be allowed in the limited and office industrial zones, which runs from Ventura and Ledgewood Boulevards to South Coast Behavioral Health, and the general industrial zone, which covers the New Bedford Business Park and several other properties.

Sites would not be allowed within 500 feet of a church, school, recreational area or any other place where children commonly congregate. Also, facilities would not be allowed to be within 100 feet of residential or business districts. The guidelines are similar to the town’s established medical marijuana regulations.

An additional 500 foot restriction from retail stores or restaurants was recommended by the Board of Health.

How many stores can Dartmouth support?

A cap of 20 percent of the town’s liquor licenses, of which 14 are currently issued, is proposed. It would mean Dartmouth could be home to three locations, rounded up on recommendation of the state. Facilities must be located 1,000 feet away from each other.

What’s next?

Planning Board members raised concerns during the June 12 meeting, which led to the decision to postpone a vote on moving the proposed bylaw forward.

Lorri-Ann Miller questioned whether there was even a need for both the distance standard and liquor license-based cap if they both essentially would limit the number of overall shops.

Member John Sousa said clustering them all in one area wouldn’t be the best idea, and, given the adherence to liquor licenses, he noted it would not make sense either.

“Why do we want to allow them to concentrate in one location if it’s a service to the public to have these?” Sousa said. “Why not allow a developer to put it in a wider area, even if were limiting the district on where it can go?” Sousa said.

The board is also waiting on input from the Board of Health on buffers and setbacks from restaurants, retail and residential locations because the restrictions could also impact the number of viable parcels.

The Planning Board is scheduled to meet in two weeks on June 25.

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