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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Berkshire County Arc Elects New Board Chair
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Michael Ferry has been elected Berkshire County Arc's chairman of the Board of Directors. He has been serving as the board's treasurer for 16 years.
Ferry brings to the position more than 30 years with Berkshire Bank, most recently as senior vice president, commercial regional president, for Berkshire County and Vermont regions.
"I look forward to working with the board and BCArc's staff to ensure the continued delivery of services to our individuals and families, while maintaining the financial stability of the agency into the future," Ferry saud. "There will always be new challenges, new regulations, a changing economy, and leadership. Our duty as a board is to insure delivery of services for those we care so much for."
Ferry said the diverse expertise of the board members help provide needed vision for the future. Board members include professionals in the areas of disabilities, law, education, finance, health care and private business.
"I believe it's important we continue to widen the expertise of the board in terms of experience, diversity, and community relations," he said.
Ferry holds a bachelor's degree from Saint Michaels College in Colchester, Vt. He has served on numerous boards in the community, including board president of the Berkshire Housing Development Corporation & Berkshire Housing Services Inc., board member of "EforAll" Berkshire County, and a former board member and current member of the finance committee for Berkshire United Way, committee member for the Dalton Development and Industrial Commission, and a volunteer coach with the Special Olympics Massachusetts.
Superintendent Jason McCandless told the School Committee last week that there will be recalls of some of the 140 nonrenewal notices sent out prior to the passage of the $64 million budget.
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