NORTH ADAMS, Mass. -- The Planning Board has requested the adoption of a six-month moratorium for medical marijuana facilities wanting to locate in the city.
The order, submitted to the City Council last week by Mayor Richard J. Alcombright, will be considered by the council's Community Development Committee on Thursday, 5:30 p.m., at City Hall. The committee will make its recommendation, on whether or not to move forward with the moratorium, at the council's Dec. 23 meeting.
A single applicant, Total Health and Wellness Inc., is currently in Phase 2 of the state Department of Public Health's (DPH) Phase 2 Application process and if approved, would seek to open a facility at 26 Roberts Drive.
"I've been talking about bringing this forward for three or four months now," Alcombright said Tuesday. "I was questioned at the last council meeting as to why this was being brought forward now -- if it was because we had an applicant. The answer is that with all the other priorities before me, I really didn't have time to sit down and get after it until now."
The mayor said that he'll ask the committee to consider a shorter time period, which would end the moratorium on April 15 -- allowing the Planning Board, in conjunction with the council, just over three months to review the potential impacts of such a facility and to develop zoning and other regulations that are consistent with state regulations and procedures.
"To my knowledge, this applicant has not submitted any plans to the Planning Board, which means they would not be able to be before the board before its February or March meetings," he said. "This will allow the Planning Board to have three full meeting cycles to meet jointly with the General Government Committee to consider the regulations and to consider this entity itself."
During last week's City Council meeting, Councilor Lisa Blackmer questioned if a moratorium would put the applicant's state license in jeopardy. She also said agreed with the potential site's owner, Dr. Kenneth Sullivan-Bol, the location was well suited for a dispensary. The property at 26 Roberts Drive is zoned commercial-industrial and does not border any residential properties.
"I did verify with DPH that no permits have been approved yet and that the process won't take place until at least the end of January," Alcombright said. "I also verified whether or not a moratorium could put a license in jeopardy -- which it won't."
However, applicants in municipalities without a moratorium may be given priority consideration because they can open quicker, he said.
Total Health and Wellness Inc. has applied for licenses for sites in the city and Pittsfield. According to the state DPH, applicants accepted into Phase 2 must demonstrate community support, identify a specific location, show they can comply with all municipal and state rules, regulations, ordinances and bylaws, as well as have $500,000 in the bank.
"I have not been approached by the applicant at this time," Alcombright said. "If they approach me for a letter of support, I think I would give it. The voters of this Commonwealth and North Adams, overwhelmingly expressed their desire to allow the medical use of marijuana."
DPH is expected to approve up to 35 medical marijuana dispensaries, with at least one, but no more than five, in each county.