By Jonathan Phelps
---- — IPSWICH — The town is moving forward with zoning regulations for the possible placement of medical marijuana dispensaries in town.
A public hearing will take place at 8 tonight at Town Hall, 25 Green St. The draft of the zoning bylaw is posted on the town website, ipswichma.gov.
The proposed bylaw would limit medical marijuana dispensaries to “planned commercial” and “limited industrial zoning districts,” which run along Route 1 in the western part of town. Such a business would have to go through a special permit process with the Planning Board before locating in town.
The process will address siting, design, placement, security, safety monitoring and removal of dispensaries, according to the draft bylaw.
The draft was developed by the Planning Board, planning staff, police Chief Paul Nikas and Health Agent Colleen Fermon. The zoning regulations are aimed at minimizing any adverse visual and economic impacts that potential facilities might have on abutters.
Under the draft regulations, a dispensary cannot be located in the same building as a doctor’s office or residential unit. They cannot be located within 1,000 feet of a child care facility, school, rehabilitation center, correctional facility, playground or fields, or other licensed dispensaries.
The operator must have the proper licenses from the state and file an annual report with the town, which includes copies of all the necessary state licenses.
Proposed security measures include lighting, fencing, gates and alarms to ensure the safety of people and to protect from theft, according to the draft.
Medical marijuana was approved by voter referendum across the state last November, and the law took effect Jan. 1. In May, the state issued its regulations for medical marijuana.
Town Meeting voters approved a moratorium on dispensaries coming to town, allowing for more time to draft local provisions. The moratorium will last until May 31, 2014.
The finalized bylaw change must be approved at a future Town Meeting.
Staff writer Jonathan Phelps can be reached at 978-338-2527 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at JPhelps_SN.