DARTMOUTH — After months of discussion, a zoning overlay district governing recreational marijuana will go before a public hearing at 7 p.m. Aug. 20, leaving Town Meeting approval on Oct. 16 to be the last step in the process.
The proposed overlay district, which spans a large portion of Faunce Corner Road, mirrors the one passed four years ago to regulate the siting of medical marijuana treatment centers and dispensaries.
Subsequently the voters of Massachusetts voted to legalize recreational marijuana, and it became necessary to create an overlay for that, or risk that the siting process is vulnerable to being a free-for-all, town officials have said.
Under this process, marijuana establishments must obtain a special permit that shows they are following the tight restrictions on just where such entities are allowed. The overlay map shows the same pattern as the earlier one, with the objectives being the same. They include:
— Designate areas where facilities would have the least impact on the community’s character.
— Site establishments close to highway access and public transportation.
— Locate sites away from residences and places where children congregate.
— Limit the number of facilities to the extent allowed by the state.
The overlay would prevent facilities from being less than 1,000 feet away from another one. Proposed conditions would include the securing of a community host agreement from selectmen, submission of the operations guidelines required for state licensing, and a review by the police chief.
The proposal also addresses the minimum number of parking spaces, and the color of any fences or barriers.
No facility would be allowed within 500 feet of a school, college or university, day care, library, in addition to the avoidance of children.
Any proposal to sell marijuana for consumption on-site would require that there be a referendum in accordance with state law. The state Department of Public Health governs medical use permits, and the Cannabis Control Commission handles the recreational aspect.
Follow Steve Urbon on Twitter @SteveUrbonSCT.