Social consumption of marijuana, landscape buffers, and towing up for votes

Sep 10, 2019

Landscape buffers, a tweak to the definition of “motor vehicle service,” and a one-year moratorium on social consumption marijuana businesses will all be up for votes at the fall Town Meeting through warrant articles proposed by the Planning Board.

Currently, the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission is developing the regulations that would govern social consumption marijuana businesses, which would be similar to a bar, in that patrons could purchase and consumer marijuana in the business. Because those regulations haven’t yet been decided, the Attorney General is allowing towns to put in place a one-year moratorium on these kinds of businesses. The board explained that the town needs more information before deciding whether or not to allow this use.

Another article would add “towing for service” to the definition of motor vehicle service. The town’s zoning by-laws define various kinds of businesses. The board is proposing modifying the definition in this way to allow these businesses to tow cars into the shop for repair. The members also wrote the bylaw to make it clear that towing vehicles to be stored at the business is a use that has to be considered separately by the board.

The board is also proposing a few tweaks to a chart that determines how wide a landscaped buffer needs to be between a current use and a new use. For example, if someone is proposing building an office next to an industrial building, there must be a ten-foot wide landscaped buffer between the two buildings. The proposed changes make the buffers consistent between use types. 

The Planning Board members also considered several other changes that they ultimately decided not to bring to voters this year, including allowing medical marijuana businesses to be located anywhere that recreational marijuana businesses can be located, and some changes to the rules governing the zoning of the Wareham Village and Onset Village districts. In both cases, members agreed that they would be able to make better informed decisions at a later date. 

Because the legal marijuana industry is still very new, the members decided to wait to make any changes until the market has matured a little more. The rapid opening of many new businesses across the state will likely change the traffic to currently open businesses.

Town Planner Ken Buckland told the board that the Redevelopment Authority will likely be awarded a grant which would have urban designers look at the zoning and density in town and give feedback. The board decided to wait to hear what the designers had to say.

Town Meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on October 28 in the Wareham High School auditorium.