Westfield considers changing zoning laws for medical marijuana - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Westfield considers changing zoning laws for medical marijuana

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In January, the State Department of Public Health awarded licenses to 20 medical marijuana dispensaries.

Only two were approved here in Western Mass.

But that's not stopping some cities and towns from exploring the possibilities of dispensaries in their area.

The Westfield City Council is considering a petition by the Planning Board to change the city's zoning ordinance to allow for a medical marijuana facility.

The only two sites given the green light to build in Western Mass are located in Holyoke and Northampton.

So why is Westfield considering changing the laws?

City Council President Brent Bean said it's all a precaution in case down the road more licenses are awarded.

"We're in the process of just information gathering at this point. It hit the agenda through the mayor's office and the council felt it wasn't ready to discuss the issue," said Bean. 

Not ready to discuss without first hearing from residents.

A public forum was held at Thursday night's meeting so the council could receive some feedback and input on the petition to change the zoning law.

"Not just general questions, but educated and precise questions about the issue," said Bean.  

He explained at this time, the city's zoning ordinance is not built with an approved location for a medical marijuana site.

"That's one of our largest issues. Where do we put it in the city? Is there going to be the general site plan approval issues that we deal with all the time?" said Bean.

In the Planning Board's petition, a dispensary would be allowed in the Industrial A district. The site would need to meet state regulations.

Bean said should someone come forward and approach the council to build a dispensary in town, they want to make sure it is put in the right spot.

"We have the city laid out right now in the sense of a grid where it comes to commercial and residential, so we want to make sure we're mindful of those two things," said Bean.

The Planning Board will also hold a public hearing on the matter on March 18.

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