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Council considers marijuana facility zoning

Date: 4/25/2014

By Carley Dangona

AGAWAM – The City Council conducted a public hearing regarding an amendment to the Zoning Ordinance to allow registered medical marijuana facilities within the town’s borders.

During its regular meeting on April 22, the council opened the floor to the public to share its opinion on medical marijuana facilities. Only three people spoke, two of whom were town employees who elaborated on the ordinance. The third was a resident who gave her name in favor of the resolution.

The council approved the first reading of the resolution. A second must be supported to enact the order.

Deborah Dachos, director of Planning & Community Development, spoke first. She stated that in September 2013 the council voted to enter an eight-month moratorium on the issue, which ends on May 16.

Dachos explained that during the interim, the town and others in Western Massachusetts worked with the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission to create a “draft ordinance” that would serve as the basis for each town, allowing for adjustments to be made to meet the specific needs of each town.

William Reichelt of the town’s Law Department reviewed the specific changes to Agawam’s version of the ordinance. He noted that a medical marijuana site could not be located next to areas zoned as residential districts or that allowed residential use with mixed zoning areas.

In other action, the council appointed Robert Rivkin to the Agawam Municipal Golf Commission for a term that expires on Dec. 31, 2016, and it elected Louis Russo to the Community Preservation Act Committee for a term that expires April 30, 2017.

The council also unanimously approved the first reading of Resolution TOR-2014-2, an ordinance to amend the town’s code to establish a housing committee. A second reading must be approved to enact the legislation.

Two public hearings were set for upcoming council meetings. Public hearings regarding the creation of a Mixed Use Business C District will take place on May 19 and the fiscal year 2015-2019 Capital Improvement Program will be conducted on June 2.