FAIRHAVEN – Selectmen, along with members of the marijuana advisory committee, gathered Monday night in part to decide whether to add ballot questions to the April elections regarding recreational marijuana, but also to work toward understanding the issue.
“In a sense, you’re being asked to make some decisions without all the knowledge,” said Town Administrator Mark Rees. The lack of knowledge doesn’t stem from a lack of transparency or communication within town hall, but rather the fluidity of legislation from the state level.
The confusion of the board played largely into the decision regarding adding ballot questions to the April 2 vote, as selectmen and advisory board members felt that without more education in the process as far as zoning, additional questions would either serve to be redundant, or prove risky for the town.
The two questions considered were:
Should the town continue the zoning moratorium on adult-use marijuana – that is presently in place – until Dec. 28?
Should the town prohibit, or limit to fewer than two, any retail marijuana spaces? A follow-up question to this would be whether the town wanted to allow one or zero spaces.
After roughly an hour and a half discussion, selectmen carried a motion to take no further action, meaning no recreational marijuana questions will appear on the April 2 ballot.
Presently, Fairhaven has a zoning moratorium on adult-use marijuana facilities, which lasts until Dec. 28.
The option to put it on the ballot came from Tom Crotty, who suggested that because applications can be filed for retail marijuana facilities starting April 1, there’s the possibility that an applicant may challenge the moratorium in court.
Crotty went on to say that, generally speaking, zoning moratoriums are upheld in court.
If the moratorium were to be lifted, the town’s present zoning laws would be used for adult-use marijuana, meaning retail shops could be located wherever the current zoning would allow.
Tim Keogh, president of the board for BASK Inc., was present and provided industry insight into the moratorium discussion, stating that for the most part applicants will be looking for towns with more developed zoning regulations as to streamline their opening. This means that Fairhaven would probably not have to deal with many people challenging the moratorium.
Selectmen decided the moratorium is needed to begin working toward zoning bylaws, which led to their decision to not put it on the ballot, as it could only result negatively for the town in regards to zoning.