Belmont Town Meeting will vote at its annual gathering in April on an interim amendment to delay for more than a year changing the town's zoning bylaws to permit marijuana dispensaries to do business.
Written by the Belmont Planning Board, the interim controls for medical marijuana uses – which was brought before the Belmont Board of Selectmen for its approval on Monday, Feb. 11 – would allow the town to begin a careful regulatory review on where treatment centers could be located and how they dispense its goods, according to Belmont Town Administrator David Kale.
Under the bylaw, a proposed center will be shut out from opening its doors as it will not be permitted in any zoning district including all overlay district.
Those controls would be in effective until June 30, 2014 or when the Town Meeting reps enacts a new bylaw at a special or the regular Town Meeting.
Belmont joins fellow communities waiting for the state to create its own regulations on how firms will deliver their supply of marijuana to the public. State regulations are expected in May or June.
The delay will allow the town to study the impact of having a dispensary in the "Town of Homes," including how it will affect the general public health, safety and welfare of residents.
Selectman Andy Rojas said the Planning Board will conduct a number of public meeting to hear resident concerns on a number of issues including who will be able to own and manage a dispensary, the selling of associated goods such as oils, ointments and food (brownies?) and how it will dispense the products.
But it will be the proposed location of any retail marijuana operation and developing zoning regulations that will attract the most attention, according to the town official who will be at the center of the process.
"We will need to talk to all communities; homeowners, businesses, the town and school and determine where we can place (dispensaries). We don't want them near schools and not in a residential neighborhood," said Planning Board Chairman Sami Baghdady recently when the measure was brought before the Planning Board.