First Public Say On Tenative Retail Marijuana Regs June 19

Photo: Interior of a pot shop.

Planning Board Chair Charles Clark said while “very strong” arguments were made on both sides of the opt-out marijuana sales debate during Town Meeting earlier in the month, the cases for and against the article was limited to a small number of the members. 

Now, the board wants to hear from the rest of the town on what should be the “time, manner and place” of the first pot shops in Belmont.

At its Monday, May 14 meeting, Clark said the process of creating a new set of bylaws needs to begin soon.

“While it’s more than half a year away, it’s really just around the corner,” said Clark as the board released a draft schedule on writing the local ordinance ready to be enforced by the beginning of next year. 

“We want to hear a range of opinions” from the public on the placement and times of operation “which we didn’t hear the first time,” said Clark.

Scheduled for June 19 at the Beech Street Center to catch people before they leave town on summer vacation, the meeting will have the feel of the public “forum” rather than a more formal public hearing, said Town Planner Jeffrey Wheeler.

“We’ll ask, ‘Is this [regulation] good?’ Should [the stores] be placed in LB1 (business) zoning districts? We want to hear ideas,” said Clark. He said the board will also present data on how other towns are proceeding with establishing regulations and restrictions. 

Clark said the forum will be the first, but not last time the public will have their say on the matter. The board will be holding public meetings on the new “pot” zoning before the Special Election on Sept. 25, where voters will either approve or reject the opt-out article amended to only allow pot sales in town.

The proposed zoning bylaw on the wheres and whens of the stores will be before the fall Special Town Meeting starting Tuesday, Nov. 13. If passed by a two-thirds majority of the members, the regulations will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2019.

[Correction: An earlier version of the article indicated Special Town Meeting begins on Nov. 8. The Town Clerk has selected Nov. 13, a Tuesday, as the first night of the “Special.”]