As the state began accepting applications Monday for recreational marijuana shops to open in the Commonwealth, the Lynn City Council took a vote to lay the groundwork and zoning for adult recreational marijuana use.
With pot sales expected to take off July 1, one of the biggest hurdles pot shop owners faced are city and towns with no regulations or zoning for adult cannabis use.
The Lynn City Council voted 10-1 last week to create zoning to establish a recreational marijuana overlay district in the city. Without them city attorney James Lamanna said recreational shops could open anywhere in the city. Creating the overlay district allows a certain level of control over were the cannabis shops will be located and how many can open.
Several amendments to the overlay district ordinance were presented by City Council President Darren Cyr at last week’s meeting. These amendments prevent a recreational marijuana facility from opening within 200 ft. from a school; no recreation alcannabis shop can open within 500 ft. of another recreational cannabis shop; and licensed recreational cannabis shops cannot exceed 20 percent of the liquor licenses in the city.
District One Councilor Wayne Lozzi applauded the city’s legal department for putting together the ordinance’s language in order to establish clear guidelines for how many and where recreational marijuana shops will be allowed in the city. However, Lozzi was the one defending vote during last week’s meeting. Lozzi said he would not vote for the ordinance because he thought the zoning restriction should be increased from 200 ft. to 500 ft. when it comes to placing a recreation marijuana shop near a school.
The state’s Cannabis Control Commission had made recommendations to cities and towns that marijuana shops should not be placed any closer than 500 ft. from a school. However, the 500 ft. rule was only a recommendation by the commission and cities and towns could place recreational marijuana facilities closer to schools if they wished.
Lamanna explained that the law department decided on 200 ft. because of the amount of schools in Lynn.
“When you look at a map and you see 27 public schools and four to five parochial schools in Lynn it does not leave much room for a facility to open in the city at 500 ft.,” said Lamanna.
Residents like William Burton supported the ordinance saying he was excited about the economic possibilities. With six percent of gross recreational marijuana sales slated to come back to the cash strapped city, Burton said it could be a boon for Lynn.
“I’d like to start a cannabis growing business,” he said. “Lynn is perfectly situated for easy access on the North Shore and this industry will bring a lot of revenue through sales and taxes. I believe a lot of people will be coming to Lynn for this product so its a strong business incentive for Lynn.”
Back in July the Council voted unanimously to grant a special permit to Mass Patient Foundation Inc. (MPF) to site a medical marijuana dispensary on the Lynnway. The Newton-based MPF Inc. was one of two medical marijuana dispensaries approved by the City Council last year. MPF Inc. plans to open the dispensary at 487-491 Lynnway, an area along the city’s waterfront that was selected and rezoned by the Council as an overlay district that allows for medical marijuana dispensary use.