MA: Springfield City Council Invites Public Comment On Year-Long Marijuana Sales Moratorium

Photo Credit: Anthony Plascencia

The City Council is welcoming public comment on Monday night regarding a proposal for a moratorium on the retail sale of marijuana that could last until the end of the year.

The council meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall. The moratorium proposal is among several public hearings on the agenda.

As proposed, the moratorium on recreational marijuana shops runs until Dec. 31 or until the city adopts zoning regulations for the businesses, whichever occurs first.

The Planning Board voted unanimously two weeks ago to recommend the moratorium on retail sales to allow city time to draft local regulations.

There was previously a six-month moratorium on recreational marijuana sales, but it expired in August.

The city is awaiting state regulations, now under review, to determine how those rules will impact Springfield and aid in drafting local regulations, Deputy City Planner Philip Dromey said.

In November, City Solicitor Edward Pikula said state law allows certain local controls for marijuana facilities such as: time, place and manner regulations; limiting the number of marijuana establishments in a city; restricting cultivation, processing and manufacturing of marijuana that is a public nuisance; establishing reasonable restrictions on public signage; and establishing civil penalties for violations of an ordinance.

The City Council separately approved regulations for medical marijuana centers four years ago, requiring such facilities receive a special permit from the council and must be located within an Industrial A zone. In addition, those facilities cannot be within 500 feet of a residence or school, child care center or any other site where “children commonly congregate.”

Since those regulations were adopted in February 2014, there has been one medical marijuana dispensary approved in the city, at 506 Cottage St., in the East Springfield neighborhood. The dispensary was approved in November, but is not yet open.

In November, Pioneer Valley Planning Commission Executive Director Timothy Brennan said the commission was recommending moratoriums for communities to have time to draft regulations. He said such a freeze was not intended as a “stall technique.”