Planning Board has Marijuana on its Mind

During the presentation of her report on the Citizens Planning Training Collaborative Seminar that Chairperson Eileen Marum and other planning board members attended, discussions during the March 19 meeting of the Marion Planning Board veered off to the issue of marijuana regulations, which have been approved and will be printed and released on March 23.

Marum is concerned about a 500-foot buffer from existing K-12 public and private schools. This regulation would not apply to pre-schools or daycare facilities, she said. This buffer, like the other regulations promulgated by the state, can be made more lenient by the town, but not more restrictive.

“My other concern is … they said it was safer because of security [at commercial marijuana establishments] – but if it’s a cash business … people desperate for money [will go where the cash is].”

Andrew Daniel, a board member who also attended the seminar, said he agreed with Marum’s assessment.

Marum suggested to Karen Walega, the Marion health director, that perhaps the Board of Health could incorporate a buffer in its bylaws similar to the existing buffer defined by the medical marijuana regulations.

Marum pointed out that the Cannabis Control Commission has held off on regulations regarding “mixed-use” or on-site consumption establishments. Marum gave examples of mixed-use establishments as being “a restaurant with cannabis salad dressing or a massage parlor with cannabis infused massage oil.”

“This is a growing process … not going to come out of the gate with everything right,” said Daniel. “We have a five-year interval to re-assess [our by-laws].”

Board member Will Saltonstall asked what the next steps were for the process, wondering aloud if there should be an open dialogue on the front end. Board member Norm Hills replied, “Someone has to develop a bylaw, which the bylaw codification group [will do] with the Board of Health input – to put in people’s hands to look at … we will have to have a public hearing in preparation for Fall Town Meeting.”

The board briefly discussed an Approval Not Required application presented by Chris Gilbert of Farland Corp. on behalf of Great Hill Marion LLC. The application, specifically on Map 4 Lots 1, 1A and 2-8, requested a land swap with the Town of Marion relating to the water tower reconstruction on Delano Road. The board unanimously approved the ANR, and Saltonstall remarked, “Thanks to Great Hill for helping [the Town of Marion] to provide water.”

The board then addressed a request for comment from the ZBA regarding 460 Front Street, a bed & breakfast that was recently sold to George and Jean Linzee. Hills observed that the ZBA in its request is still referencing the old bylaw section numbers. Marum questioned the use of the swimming pool by the guests at the location, which the board agreed was a Board of Health issue.

In concluding the discussion, Saltonstall said he thought there might be differing building codes for public and private pools, but that his personal feeling was to not recommend any comments, which the board affirmed.

No town residents attended the public hearing regarding the codification of an additional nine bylaws by the codification subcommittee. The board briefly reviewed the changes and closed the public hearing. Board member Jennifer Francis remarked that the bylaws still reference the “Board of Selectmen,” and suggested that this be changed to “Selectboard” all the way through the document, saying, “It could be part of the definitions … let’s keep with the times, or push the times.”

In other business, Town Planner Gil Hilario described a grant that he was working on with the Buzzards Bay Action Committee and the National Estuary Program. The grant would provide funding for the collection of water quality data at discharge points, the chemical analysis of the samples, and the report of the findings. Five other local communities have just completed this project under the grant program. The data points collected will be mapped using GIS, and the results will help inform future water quality and watershed improvements.

Hilario underscored the importance of developing a Hazard Mitigation Plan for the town, which he described as one of his top priorities. Previously, the DPW had administered this plan, and was required to hold workshops to get public input. Hilario described the value of the workshops in which information about problem flood areas in town, for example, could be identified.

Hilario also provided the board with a list of suggested committee members for the Master Plan Implementation Committee, which the board will discuss further at its next meeting.

The next meeting of the Marion Planning Board is scheduled for April 2 at 7:00 pm at the Marion Town House.

Marion Planning Board

By Sarah French Storer


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