Marijuana shops, property tax changes highlight agenda for 2nd night of Great Barrington town meeting

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GREAT BARRINGTON — In a second chapter of annual town meeting, voters will weigh in Tuesday on a slew of issues including zoning for marijuana businesses that could ban them from residential areas, and limiting the number of retail cannabis establishments in town.

The meeting will also tackle changing property tax payments from twice a year to quarterly, and several amendments to bylaws governing accessory dwelling units (ADUs), which are smaller, separate structures built on an existing property.

The 32 warrant articles will be presented at 6 p.m. in the parking lot at Monument Mountain Mountain Regional High School.

Town officials are keeping to the same procedure as the June 22 meeting, but because nine articles went unconsidered as darkness fell and voters fled, extra lighting is being added to remedy this.

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More than half of the articles are zoning related, and most were issued by the Planning Board.

Those that are marijuana-related are part of a continued scramble by local boards to regulate recreational cannabis after voters statewide legalized it in Massachusetts. Entrepreneurs have have swooped into the Berkshires to set up shop, while local officials weighed just how far to roll out the welcome and still collect robust tax and other revenues from them.

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One article aims to limit retail marijuana shops to seven — something recommended by the Select Board, based on the number of applications it had in hand at the time.

Another, by citizen petition, would ban any marijuana business or medical marijuana treatment center from residential areas. It would also ban cannabis businesses that produce odor and noise beyond the property line, and not allow lighting overnight. The Planning Board does not recommend creating such a bylaw.

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The struggle for housing in town also weighed into the board's suggested changes.

For amendments to ADU requirements, the board recommends the removal of height and setback limits for some ADUs, and expanding the allowable size from 650 square feet to 900 square feet. Another would allow ADUs in all zoning districts.

Other articles include banning toxic waste — like PCBs from General Electric Co.'s mandated cleanup of the Housatonic River — from storage or disposal in town.

Heather Bellow can be reached at hbellow@berkshireeagle.com or on Twitter @BE_hbellow and 413-329-6871.


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