October 11, 2017

Worcester council wants pot shops spread across city

Grant Welker
City Hall as seen from Allen Court across Franklin Street. City councilors want to see pot shops spread across the city instead of bunched together.

The Worcester City Council on Tuesday asked City Manager Ed Augustus to create zoning restrictions to make sure retail marijuana stores don't populate just certain districts.

Instead, councilors asked Augustus to spread out pot shops among the five City Council districts.

Councillor George Russell at Tuesday's meeting introduced the order, saying the establishments shouldn't just be located in one, two or three districts.

"I'm hoping there are business locations throughout the city where these facilities can be located," he said.

Zoning should prohibit the stores from opening near residential neighborhoods and religious and educational facilities, the council said.

Augustus has proposed a 15-store limit on such facilities when stores are allowed to open in summer 2018, as well as a 3-percent local tax on retail cannabis sales.

Other councilors called for stores not yo be located near any densely-populated neighborhoods and a special permit process for these stores, which would trigger a public hearing to give nearby residents a voice on regulations for a new industry coming to the city.

"We've got to have that community input," said Councillor Konstantina Lukes, "especially one where we're making new policy."

Councillor Sarai Rivera compared the shops to liquor stores, which she said can be centralized in certain areas around the city.

"I hope when we move forward, we continue to have conversations about how it's going to impact the community," she said.


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