LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — 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 new marijuana bylaws passed with limited discussion. The Planning Board put forth the proposal which limits commercial marijuana facilities from opening in residential areas.
The bylaw allows for commercial marijuana in the business, major retail, and industrial areas by right. Marijuana companies could also seek to open in the limited business zone, but only with a special permit. A facility is not able to open in residential or the residential-agricultural zone.
"This proposal is to help put a framework as to where marijuana retail can be in the town of Lanesborough," Town Manager Paul Sieloff said.
The plan easily received the two-thirds majority vote required.
That bylaw is what led to the calling of a special town meeting. If towns do not have restrictions in place prior to permits being issued. If no restrictions are in place by then, the town would not have been able to control where the establishment opens. The state Cannabis Control Commission will start accepting applications for state licensing in April.
Since the Board of Selectmen opted to handle the issue at a special town meeting, town officials had also decided to take on the tractor issue. One of the tractors used for mowing broke last summer -- after the annual capital budget was set -- and town officials were able to fix it just enough. The purchase of a new one would be scheduled for this upcoming year so since there was an earlier meeting, the Selectmen opted to put the item on this meeting's agenda to have the tractor in time for mowing in the spring.
"Rather than risk having it go dead again, we put it on this warrant," Sieloff said.
The current tractor is 28-years old and Sieloff said the town tries to keep vehicles for as long as possible.
Resident Michelle Johnson questioned the purchase, citing recent purchases of equipment the town has made. She also voiced concern about potential a potential budget shortfall in the upcoming year with the school budget should Hancock and New Ashford opts to send their children to another school. A proposal to raise the tuition for those students at both Lanesborough Elementary and Mount Greylock has caused some consternation in town in recent weeks.
"I'm not sure it is wise to spend $40,000 on a tractor when we could be facing a budget shortfall in the school budget if Hancock and New Ashford pull their kids from the school," Johnson said.
Johnson, however, was outnumbered when the vote was taken.
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