PITTSFIELD, Mass. — 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.
"The state licensing process will be measured at first so I don't think we'd be running into that cap too early," said Permitting Coordinator Nate Joyner.
Joyner said the state requires an equal number of retailers as the number of package store liquor licenses — which is seven in Pittsfield. He said there are already three medical marijuana permits issued. Those two factors added together is how the department decided on 10.
He added that based on the ratio of establishments in California, 10 is on par for a community of Pittsfield's size. However, he added that Colorado's ratios are significantly higher so there is a range.
City Planner CJ Hoss said the cap is self-imposed and if the city does hit it, the department would bring that information to the board for further discussion about raising it.
The Community Development Board will sponsor the ordinance change, which will require a public hearing and City Council approval. The board agreed to start that process Tuesday night.
The city already has medical marijuana ordinances in place. However, with the approval of recreational marijuana, the city is updating those regulations. Joyner said the proposal essentially deletes the medical marijuana ordinance and replaces it with a new one since both medical and recreational will be guided by the state's Cannabis Control Commission.
Pittsfield will allow the four land use categories — cultivation, retail, testing and laboratory, and manufacturing and process. The proposal also adds a category for outdoor marijuana among the agricultural uses.
Joyner said the establishments would require a special permit in the commercial and industrial zones.
The changes also align the language with the terms the state is using to guide the industry. The Cannabis Control Commission is tasked with promulgating the regulations by March 15. Permits will be issued shortly after and in July retailers can begin selling.
The industry will be heavily controlled by the state, giving little responsibility to the cities and towns. However, communities do have the ability to control and limit where the establishments open.
The Health Department last week said it is watching the regulations, mostly to keep an eye on any setbacks proposed either by the city or state. The department wants to make sure the establishments aren't too close to schools and parks.
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Proprietor's Lodge Given Extended Outdoor Hours
By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Licensing Board extended the hours that the Proprietor's Lodge can serve alcohol on its patios to help accommodate social distancing while dining.
The board acted Wednesday on a request from the lodge's owner Eric Taylor, despite concern from the neighborhood, that would provide the restaurant a lifeline during the reopening process.
"This is a unique situation and Mr. Taylor is in a difficult situation much like other restaurants across the state," Chairman Thomas Campoli said. "The neighbors have a legitimate point about this but I believe there ought to be some accommodation to this restaurant and I think we have to view this through the prism of the pandemic."
Taylor said the COVID-19 pandemic has already dampened the summer season and essentially all weddings and events at the lodge have been canceled. They now hope to shift more toward the restaurant portion of the business and promote its outdoor space that will allow more seating while social distancing.
MassWildlife has seen a dramatic uptick in newly documented eagle nests and has confirmed nine new nests in Fitchburg, Wenham, Concord, Rutland, Wareham, Medford, Northampton, Hudson, and Barnstable. click for more
"I never intended to stay involved this long, but after you see the love and respect the staff have for the people they serve, it's impossible to leave," he said. "And while it has been hard for me to resign, it's time for me to step down, allow for new leadership, and enjoy my retirement." click for more