The city is considering capping the number of marijuana retailers at 10.
The Department of Community Development has proposed zoning regulations to guide where an establishment can go. Those regulations would cap the number of retailers at 10, three more than the required minimum.
Town meeting swiftly approved new marijuana bylaws and the purchase of a new tractor Tuesday night.
Few people attended the special town meeting which had only those two items on the agenda. Within 10 minutes, both items were approved.
The nearly dozen-member board was charged by Mayor Thomas Bernard to prepare an ordinance over three meetings in January with the purpose of having something on the books by the time the state begins accepting applications for cannabis facilities in April.
Mayor Thomas Bernard made the development of the ordinance a priority, creating the working group in his first weeks as mayor and informing the City Council he expected to have a draft presented to councilors in February.
At issue is not so much the medical applications for the drug as the fact that Silver Therapeutics principal Joshua Silver makes no secret of the fact that he plans to seek a license from the commonwealth to operate a recreational pot retail operation at the same Colonial Plaza site where he wants to establish a medical dispensary.
The board this winter is facing a couple of decision points concerning pot. The distinct but related questions are whether to support a proposal for a medical marijuana facility on Main Street and whether to propose a special town meeting to consider the question of a ban on recreational pot businesses.
Nine of the 10 articles on the warrant were passed by significant margins by the 77 voters present and changed several zoning bylaws and set regulations for marijuana producation and sales, including allowing for more retail locations, and limited solar array locations.
The board made some final changes to the bylaw late last month and agreed that retailers can only locate in the downtown, or B-2 district, if they receive a special permit from the Planning Board. They can't be located closer than 250 feet from schools, day-care centers or other areas where minors commonly congregate and are the population primarily served by the facility.
During a joint Planning Board and City Council public hearing Monday, the Planning Board heard from councilors and residents alike who were opposed to delaying a possible recreational marijuana facility from moving into the community.
The complaints came at Monday's public hearing on a raft of bylaw revisions to update the town's zoning. Town officials are anticipating a special town meeting by late December or early January.
The solar bylaw was completed last year but not in time for the annual town meeting in May. It was presented at Monday night's Planning Board hearing as a standalone along with a number of connected zoning amendments and additions.
Originally some members wanted to keep the state's buffer zone of 500 feet, however this would lock all possible retailers out of the downtown. The Planning Board brought the distance down to 300 feet but ultimately compromised at 250 feet.
The Selectmen plan to create a new policy that would eliminate health insurance coverage for part-time elected and appointed officials.
During a workshop meeting Tuesday on setting town goals, the officials agreed that in the near future they will have to make a decision on insurance.
The Board of Selectmen wants to go west for information about how to deal with the advent of legalized recreational marijuana.
On Monday, the board revisited the question of what kinds of local fees to attach to the sale of pot if and when a purveyor opens shop in the town next year.
Attorney Raymond Miyares is advising towns to adopt moratoriums on recreational marijuana — six months ago.
Miyares is town council for a number of towns across the state. He says the timeline for implementation of recreational marijuana is putting towns in the position of being "stampeded" with little chance to regulate it.
City officials say the vote on recreational marijuana was already taken and it doesn't need to go before voters again.
The City Council's Ordinance and Rules Committee fielded a petition from local Attorney William Barry requesting a ban on recreational marijuana establishments.
Now that the commonwealth has legislation in place to regulate the recreational marijuana industry, it is up to the Board of Selectmen whether it wants to ask town voters about banning production and sales of the drug in town.
The City Council will consider putting a referendum on the ballot to ban the sale of recreational marijuana.
Local attorney Bill Barry put forth a petition to ban marijuana retail shops. However, when he wrote it that was before the state had passed a reworked version of the law which requires such a measure to go to a citywide vote in communities that passed the question on the statewide ballot.
The bulk of Monday's board workshop focused on where a medical marijuana retail facility could be located, however, with no consensus, the members agreed to look at a draft bylaw and come to compromise at a future meeting.
Gov. Charlie Baker signed updated marijuana regulations into law Friday.
Voters had passed the legalization of recreational use of marijuana in November and since then lawmakers have been reworking the law, which included a six-month delay. After negotiations between the House and Senate, the Legislature passed changes to the citizen's referendum on July 20, which was then signed on Friday.
Eversource is backing out of building a solar array off North Main. Instead, the company is now pursuing a similar sized project off Partridge Road.
The Planning Board gave its approval for a 6.6 megawatt array on Partridge Road, near the Pittsfield border and the Berkshire Mall Road. The estimated $10 million project is going to be located near a 2.2-megawatt array on land Eversource owns in Pittsfield.