Hancock voters approve restrictions on marijuana businesses

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HANCOCK — Annual town meeting voters overwhelmingly approved a zoning bylaw Monday night that puts wide restrictions on anyone hoping to open a marijuana-related business.

The "Marijuana Zoning Bylaw" will require that a medical marijuana treatment center, retailer or indoor cultivator would all be required to be located on a minimum of 4 acres, and that the building sit 300 feet from the roadway.

Outdoor marijuana cultivation would be prohibited outright.

The law also would require a site review and application to the Zoning Board of Appeals for a special-use permit.

"It is very restrictive, there's no two ways about it," Brian Fairbank, Hancock town meeting moderator, told The Eagle.

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By state law, changes to zoning requirements require a two-thirds majority vote at town meeting. According to Fairbank, the two-thirds requirement was easily fulfilled.

The proposed bylaw passed with a vote of 81 in favor and 11 against during the meeting at Hancock Elementary School.

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"A lot of folks didn't want to see Hancock's character changed," Fairbank said.

He noted that two amendments to the law were offered from the floor to ease some of the restrictions, but voters defeated both of them.

"It was an interactive meeting — everyone was engaged," Fairbank said. "It got a bit heated at times, but it calmed down pretty quick."

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The budgetary items all were passed, meaning the town will be working with a spending budget for fiscal 2020 of $2,239,334 — including the school budget — roughly $5,000 less than the current year's budget.

The school budget proposed for fiscal 2020 came out to be $1,683,436, or about $3,485 higher than for fiscal 2019. The school budget passed without discussion, Fairbank said.

Voters also passed an article to transfer $500,000 from free cash to keep the tax rate low.

Fairbank noted that voters approved a line item to allow the Fire Department to have $50,000 on hand, as required by the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, to apply for a grant to buy a new firetruck.

Now that the budget has passed, the town property tax rate will wind up at about $3.33 per $1,000 of assessed property value.


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