MA: Public Weighs In On Marijuana Zoning In Westfield

Photo Credit: Scott Lentz

Several people spoke in favor Thursday of a proposed zoning ordinance regulating marijuana establishments.

The ordinance, which designates Industrial A-zoned areas as the only locations for marijuana businesses, was recommended by the Westfield Planning Board.

City Planner Jay Vinskey said the board grouped medical and recreational/adult establishments as one for zoning purposes and did not delve deeply into adding regulations.

“If you look at the state regulations, it is so highly regulated that the city probably doesn’t have to do any more,” Vinskey said. “We’re focusing on where physically an operation should be allowed in the city.”

Because Westfield voters supported recreational use marijuana sales – now known as adult use – the city can’t opt out, said Vinskey. According to city records from the 2016 election, 9,819 Westfield residents voted in favor of legalization and 9,018 voted against it.

Thomas Keenan of Southampton and Westfield resident Marc Lichwan spoke in favor of the zoning. The men have an interest in the marijuana business. Keenan said he has “been in the industry” for three years and responded to questions from some councilors that went beyond the scope of zoning.

“There would be a community outreach meeting,” said Keenan. “The zoning ordinance regulates the time, place and manner of operations.”

Resident Brian Hoose also spoke in favor of marijuana zoning and said the city should be eyeing other businesses that could go hand-in-hand with marijuana retailers.

“Not to stereotype, but the people like music, fashion and they like to eat,” he said.

Hoose said the city could miss out if it further restricts marijuana establishments. He said once the businesses are open, the city can fine-tune ordinances if needed.

“We’re not going to know what to correct until it’s in place,” he said.

City Advancement Officer Joe Mitchell and resident Estelle Streeter also spoke in support of the ordinance.

No one from the public spoke against the zoning. The amendment was sent to the Legislative and Ordinance Committee and city legal department for review.