PLAINVILLE — Recreational marijuana businesses have a green light in town.
Residents at Monday’s special town meeting shot down a proposed ban on recreational marijuana establishments by a vote of 108-43. They also approved measures proposed by the planning board and supported by the finance committee to allow recreational and medical pot businesses, with strict guidelines, in two areas of town.
In 2014, residents adopted a zoning bylaw for medical marijuana dispensaries, which can’t be banned, allowing them in a district near Belcher Street and close to a former landfill.
The additional area where the businesses will be allowed is Route 1 north of Route 106.
The only application for a marijuana business pending before the town is for The Tavern restaurant in that area, where there are plans to put on an addition for the sale of recreational and medical marijuana. A developer has a purchase and sales agreement with the restaurant.
Residents also approved a finance committee recommendation of a 3 percent tax on retail sales of marijuana.
Estimates are revenue to the town from the planned Apotho Therapeutics Plainville next to The Tavern would conservatively run over $300,000 a year.
“It’s a pretty good revenue stream,” Director of Planning and Development Chris Yarworth said.
Some residents questioned traffic safety in the area as Route 1 has some dangerous intersections, including at George Street where there has been a recent fatality.
“I think we got the best site in town,” Yarworth said, noting the location is not near any homes and revenue should be high because of the high traffic location.
Regulations for the businesses include no consumption of pot on premises; a 500-foot buffer zone for schools, day care sites, libraries, playgrounds, parks and homes; requirement of a host community agreement that would result in financial benefits to the town; and a limit on the number of facilities.
The limit is 20 percent of the town’s nine liquor licenses where alcohol can’t be consumed on the property, which comes out to two pot businesses.
Debate on town meeting floor was emotional at times, as expected.
“I’m not for marijuana in any shape or form,” said Dale Blinten, warning of extra costs to the town, such as for police. “I don’t think any good can come out of the sale of marijuana in the town of Plainville.”
“I think it’s a very bad idea,” one woman said. “It’s unnecessary in Plainville.”
Resident David Henderson agreed. “The social costs for our children and grandchildren,” Henderson said, noting pot remains against federal law. “I think this is against the culture of our great town.”
“We finally almost got rid of cigarettes,” Thomas Morris said. However, the resident highlighted the push for revenue. “It’s for taxes,” he said, pointing out if the town doesn’t get the revenue, surrounding communities will.
“Every year we’re always short” of revenue, finance committee member Brian Kelly said. “Every year we have to cut services yet we are paying more taxes. We need something to fill the gap. This is something that will take a huge dent out of our shortfall.”
One woman keyed on the benefits of medical pot for cancer patients and noted it is easier to acquire alcohol.
A majority of Plainville voters supported state ballot questions to support medical marijuana in 2012 and recreational pot in 2016.
Because of the latter vote, a ban of retail sales, if passed at town meeting by a required two-thirds majority, would also have had to be approved at the ballot box.