Councilors Propose Town Moratorium On Medical Marijuana

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By: James Kinsella
Published: 01/04/13

The Barnstable Town Council last night took another step toward coming to grips with the possible implications of a new state law that legalizes medical marijuana.

Council president Debra S. Dagwan of Hyannis and councilor Ann B. Canedy of Barnstable Village proposed a temporary moratorium in town on the establishment and permitting of medical marijuana treatment centers and facilities.

The moratorium would stay in effect through January 1, 2014 or until 90 days after the effective date of final regulations promulgated by the state Department of Public Health relating to the new law, whichever comes first.

In the November elections, Massachusetts voters approved a ballot initiative that legalized medical marijuana in the state as of Tuesday.

The council last night unanimously voted to forward the proposed moratorium to the Barnstable Planning Board for a hearing.

According to a rationale accompanying the proposal, the moratorium is intended “to allow the town sufficient time to engage in a planning process to address the direct and secondary effects of siting such centers in the town and to enact zoning amendments in a manner consistent with sound land use planning goals and objectives.”

In a related step taken December 7, the town council forwarded to the planning board for a public hearing a proposed zoning ordinance that would restrict medical marijuana dispensaries to a district in the eastern section of Hyannis near Cape Cod Hospital.

Also at last night’s meeting, the board voted unanimously to amend town zoning concerning the protection of historic properties in the town.

The amendment extends the potential delay for an applicant who wishes to demolish a historic structure from six to 18 months.

The intent of extending the potential delay is engage owners of historic resources in the process of preserving those buildings and structures, according to the sponsor of the measure, council vice president Jessica Rapp Grassetti of Cotuit.

Ms. Rapp Grassetti also is chairman of the Barnstable Historical Commission, the town board that hears applications to demolish historic structures.

Ms. Canedy said she believed that the proposed 18-month delay was too long and could pose economic difficulties for some owners.

She proposed amending the measure to allow for up to a 12-month delay.

But the council voted 9-4 against that amendment, with councilors Canedy, John T. Norman of Marstons Mills, Tom Rugo of Centerville and James M. Tinsley Jr. of Hyannis on the losing side.

The council proceeded to vote unanimously for the zoning amendment proposed by Ms. Rapp Grassetti.

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