Medical Marijuana By-law Discussed

A full board attended Monday’s meeting of the Marion Planning Board to discuss the issue of where a medical marijuana facility might be located. The Planning Board also solicited the advice of Town Counsel Jon Whitten on the issue.

“We agreed to limit the area to eligible locations,” said Chairman Pat McArdle. “Also, the issue of the 500 foot clearance should be discussed,” said McArdle.

Since the town has such a mixed area of commercial and residential zoning along Route 6, the board agreed to go along with Whitten’s recommendation to not have any marijuana dispensary located within 300 feet of a residentially-zoned area or within 500 feet of a school or playground. The board also agreed that the zoning area for a marijuana dispensary would be considered ‘light industrial’ use.

The board will make a recommendation and hold a public hearing where town residents can weigh in on the discussion.

Next up, the board reviewed and discussed the ongoing revised zoning map of the town presented by John Rockwell, a former Planning Board member.

“This is a draft copy,” said Rockwell. As Rockwell spread out the map, he noted that there were a few issues that required more detail. “The Sippican Overlay District needs to be corrected and a few other details, so I am asking for input on this,” said Rockwell.

The plan is to finalize the map, have it approved at town meeting in the spring, and submit it to the state as the official map of the town. The map includes flood zoning for the town.

“You’ve done an excellent job, and we’d like to move this forward,” said board member Ted North.

The hiring of a part-time Town Planner was next on the agenda. Since the board works with a fiscal year running from July 1 to June 30, the issue of a publicized contract amount was discussed. “We don’t want to discourage someone who can help us, but might be put off by our fiscal year budget payment,” said Steve Kokkins.

The board agreed that a sub-committee should review applicants for the position and make recommendations. One board member asked about the applicants who applied for the position in Rochester, but it was noted that due to privacy issues, information on applicants for that position was not available.

Next, the board discussed a solar installation that came before the board prior to the enactment of the Solar By-Law in 2013. At issue were comments, requested by the Zoning Board of Appeals, on the case of Dale and Laura Briggs of Lot 17, Map 21 in Marion. The plot is located in a residential area. The applicants applied for approval for a solar farm in 2012, prior to the town meeting of 2013 that enacted a Solar By-Law with conditions.

In the end, the Marion Planning Board – as a result of efforts with the Land Court – voted to note in their comments to the Zoning Board of Appeals that they do not agree that a commercial enterprise (i.e., solar energy generation) be located in a residential area and that a solar generation operation be considered ‘light manufacturing’.

Lastly, the board approved minutes of prior meetings. The next meeting of the Marion Planning Board will be held on March 17. The public is invited and welcome to attend. Citizenship is an invitation.

By Joan Hartnett-Barry


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