Recreational marijuana bylaw approved by Planning Board

Jun 26, 2018

After months of debate, the Planning Board has decided how recreational marijuana could work in town through a zoning bylaw approved at its June 25 meeting, but Town Meeting approval will still be necessary.

The proposed bylaw outlines locations and standards people interested in building a recreational marijuana facility in town must adhere to in order to secure a permit.

In 2016, Massachusetts voters approved the use of recreational marijuana through a ballot question at the November general election.

When approved, the ballot question would have allowed recreational marijuana sales starting on January 1, 2018. In response, Town Meeting members approved an 18-month temporary moratorium banning recreational sales in Dartmouth at the 2017 Spring Town Meeting.

The moratorium is set to expire in December. Without the bylaw, once the moratorium expires it will become a “free for all” as far as where applicants can build, according to Planning Board members.

The Planning Board’s proposed bylaw would allow facilities to be located in the limited and office industrial zones, which runs from Ventura Drive and Ledgewood Boulevard to South Coast Behavioral Health, and the general industrial zone, which covers the New Bedford Business Park and several other properties.

Under the bylaw, which caps the total number of facilities at a percentage of the town’s 14 liquor licenses, three locations would be permitted. There are also restrictions regarding placement of facilities near churches, schools, recreational areas, and other areas where children congregate, and a distance restriction from residential or business districts. The buildings also have to be 1,000 linear square feet away from another facility.

The next step is to have the regulations go before a public hearing on August 20 and then to Fall Town meeting in October.