With the state due to release its guidelines for the sale of recreational marijuana next month, the city is creating the zoning to accommodate the new business.
A new ordinance presented to the City Council on Feb. 13 would amend the city’s zoning bylaws to establish a retail marijuana overlay district and allow the sale of recreational and medicinal marijuana.
Partly based on the city’s medical marijuana overlay district, the proposed retail marijuana district would be located within the commercially zoned areas of Route 110.
Social consumption in any kind of bar-like setting would be prohibited in the proposed overlay district, as would marijuana vending and “roll-your-own” machines.
The ordinance requires an applicant be certified by the state Cannabis Control Commission. It also requires the business to be housed in a permanent building and located at least 500 feet from a school, child care facility, library, playground, public park, youth center, public swimming pool or other places where children congregate.
Applicants looking to establish such an establishment in Amesbury would also have to enter into a host community agreement with the city.
The proposed zoning change would amend the current regulations for medical marijuana establishments that would also be allowed in the overlay district to keep the two within the same area.
The City Council unanimously referred the measure to the Ordinance and Recreational Marijuana committees as well as the Planning Board on Feb. 13. A public hearing on the matter was also set for the City Council meeting March 13.
Mayor Ken Gray said the order begins the process of “solidifying the zones in Amesbury when it comes to marijuana.”
“This is the beginning of a process and I encourage public involvement,” Gray said. “Get involved, make your voices heard and between my office, the City Council, the Recreational Marijuana Committee and the Planning Board, everyone involved with the process will weigh all the needs and the wants from folks and we’ll come up with a plan.”
If the City Council approves the proposed zoning change, it would also have to meet with the approval of the state Cannabis Control Commission, which is due to issue its guidelines on recreational marijuana sales in March.