North Adams to consider 1-year moratorium on recreational pot sales

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NORTH ADAMS — Mayor Richard Alcombright has proposed a one-year moratorium on recreational marijuana sales in North Adams.

The city's current zoning laws do not in any way address commercial marijuana sales, which were legalized by Massachusetts voters in 2016.

Before the Planning Board on Monday, Alcombright argued that the city needs more time to establish marijuana regulations and should create a commission to do so.

"I think they're going to have a lot of things to consider, amending the zoning in certain areas," Alcombright said.

To begin the process, Alcombright has asked the Planning Board and City Council to hold a joint public hearing on Dec. 11. The Planning Board agreed to that date at its meeting on Monday.

The two boards are expected to meet and make a recommendation to the City Council at their Dec. 11 meeting.

The proposed moratorium is expected to be voted on by the City Council on Dec. 12.

Under state regulations, marijuana retailers can begin applying for licenses in April of 2018 and can open as early as July 2018.

The ballot initiative that allowed recreational marijuana use passed with 53.6 percent approval statewide and 61.9 percent approval in North Adams.

Alcombright said his personal opposition to recreational marijuana — he voted against the ballot measure in 2016 — did not play a role in his decision to propose the marijuana moratorium.

"A lot communities now are saying `it's legal but we don't want it in our town,'" Alcombright said. "I just want to make certain that the community who voted to support it has input on where it may be sold; that's what this is all about."

The mayor's plan, which was crafted with assistance from the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, calls for the formation of a North Adams Retail Marijuana Zoning Committee.

The commission would hold its first meeting following the release of state marijuana regulations by the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission in April of 2018.

It would hold a second public meeting later that month to discuss possible zoning changes in North Adams and garner input from city residents.

The committee will meet in May of 2018 to discuss the public input and continue to meet monthly until it has drafted new bylaws.

The committee and mayor would look to have its recommendations approved by the Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeals, and City Council by October of 2018.

The moratorium would expire by the end of November 2018.

Reach staff writer Adam Shanks at

ashanks@berkshireeagle.com

@EagleAdamShanks on Twitter and 413-496-6376


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