Falmouth Approves Permit Bylaws for Medical Marijuana businesses

Town Meeting members approved new zoning for medical marijuana dispensaries in Falmouth, but it was met with some questions and opposition.

Article 7 on Monday night’s Town Meeting warrant contained bylaw language creating a 500-foot buffer between schools, churches, day care, nursery schools, public parks or playgrounds and the dispensaries, and dictates that the businesses can only be located in business 2 zoning districts. Town planner Brian A. Currie described business 2 zones as flexible and reserved normally for fast food restaurants and motor vehicle repair shops.

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Dispensaries will be allowed near the intersection of Route 151 and Sandwich Road; a section along East Falmouth Highway from Old Menauhant Road to Sady’s Lane; around the hospital lights on Palmer Avenue; and along Waquoit Highway.

“Do we need to set up these standards now? Why can’t we postpone to see what happens with other towns in the state so we can avoid their potholes?” asked Maureen S. O’Connell, Precinct Four.

Although Mr. Currie does not know of any plans to locate a dispensary in Falmouth now, he said the town should set requirements in the event a center wants to relocate here.

“The short answer is no,” Mr. Currie said. “If we wait, the state would take control of our permitting, and we would lose our ability to regulate ourselves,” he added.

He said the ordinances were modeled after ones that passed in Mashpee and Dennis. 

Ms. O’Connell recommended changing the buffer to 1,000 feet, but Patricia H. Kerfoot,  planning board chairman, said doubling the distance would be too prohibitive.

“We don’t want to make it impossible for them to locate here,” she said.

Mark C. Alliegro, Precinct Seven, countered that that 500 feet is not out of a child’s roaming area.

“A lot of thought went into this,” said planning board member Richard K. Latimer. He clarified the 500-foot circle begins at the edge of a playground, but the buffer begins at a structure when there is a structure to measure from, like a church.

“Well, maybe churches should install a playground,” said Judith Fenwick, Precinct One. 

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