MANCHESTER — Retail sales of cannabis would be allowed in the vicinity of Main and Depot streets but not in the historic downtown section of Manchester Center, as part of the Planning Commission’s proposal for regulating legal sales in town.
The commission will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. April 4 at Town Hall to take input on proposed zoning changes related to the legal sale of cannabis.
Manchester voters voted 591 to 355 at Town Meeting to allow retail sales to people 21 and older under state law. Legal retail sales are expected to begin in October.
The public hearing is just the first step in putting zoning rules in place to address the newly legal industry. Changes to the town zoning ordinance require public hearings by the Select Board, which gets the final say on whether the changes are adopted.
Under the “tax and regulate” law passed by the Vermont Legislature in 2020, the chief way Vermont’s 251 cities and towns can regulate the cannabis industry is through zoning. Other aspects of the industry aside from retail — including indoor and outdoor cultivation, wholesaling, processing, manufacturing, and testing and research — are allowable and must be treated like any other business.
The proposal put forward by the Planning Commission would allow retail sales as a conditional use in the town center zone. That roughly includes Main Street south of the roundabout from Lyman Lane to Ways Lane, and Depot Street east of the roundabout from Cottage Street to 709 Depot St.
The commission’s proposal would make indoor cultivation and manufacturing, and wholesale and warehousing, conditional in mixed-use and office-industrial districts.
The mixed-use district includes Bonnet Street from the Riverside Townhouses north to the vicinity of Pig Pen Road; Main Street north from Barnumville Road to North Road; Richville Road south from East Manchester Road to Union Street, and part of the former airport property; and Depot Street from East Branch Farms to Dufresne Pond Road.
Parcels zoned for office-industrial include sections of Richville Road and Depot Street, Manchester Valley Industrial Park and Taconic Business Park.
Outdoor cultivation would be conditional in the mixed-use and rural agricultural zones, while laboratories and research facilities would be conditional in the town center mixed-use and office-industrial sections.
Conditional uses require assessment by the Development Review Board based on specific criteria including potential adverse effects, traffic and whether the proposed use reflects the character of the zoning district.