Medical marijuana zoning bylaw change tops Lee special town meeting ballot

By Dick Lindsay, The Berkshire Eagle

LEE — Town meeting representatives next month will consider changing where medical marijuana dispensaries are allowed in Lee.

The bylaw amendment would allow medical dispensaries in three of the municipality’s eight zoning districts: rural business, industrial and Office Park and Light Industrial district, better known as the Quarry Hill Business Park on Route 102.

The zoning proposal is among several articles expected on the warrant for a special town meeting in mid-January; a date is pending.

Developed by the Lee Planning Board, the five-member panel, absent one member, voted 4-0 last week following a brief, sparsely attended public hearing to seek town meeting approval. The bylaw revision doesn’t address the establishment of recreational marijuana facilities, which have yet to get the go-ahead from the state.

The three districts chosen would, for the most part, keep the dispensaries on the outskirts of town.

“This is a compromise by trying to put them in places that are amenable to all,” said board member Peg Biron.

The districts would provide ample opportunity for siting the facilities, according to Chairman Thomas Wickham.

“We can’t do restrictive zoning and have them in one small area,” he noted.

The one-page amendment only addresses location of dispensaries, Wickham added. He said state regulations provide the blueprint for specifics on erecting or converting an existing building for medical marijuana sales.

“The state has a thick book of regulations such as keeping [dispensaries] away from playgrounds and schools,” said board member Buck Donovan.

Key areas in Lee targeted for dispensaries:

– Route 102 from the former Country Curtains to the Stockbridge town line.

– Route 20 from East Street to the Becket town line.

– Quarry Hill Business Park.

Quarry Hill has a potential tenant, Mass Alternative Care Inc. based in Springfield. That company received a letter of nonopposition from the Lee Select Board in August

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