Cannabis cultivation, sale legal in many boroughs | local news

BRATTLEBORO — While state law prohibits the sale of cannabis within 500 feet of a school property, the city lacks the authority to further expand buffer zones for cannabis facilities.

The Brattleboro Planning Commission was told Monday night that the city does not have the authority to go beyond its own general zoning powers to create larger buffer zones. They also learned that there are no mandated buffer zones for facilities like daycare or areas where youth might congregate, like the Boys and Girls Club on Flat Street or Memorial Park.

“Brattleboro voted to go retail, so we cannot ban cannabis retail operations through zoning,” said Sue Fillion, the city’s planning director.

Under Law 164, which lawmakers approved in 2020 to allow adult recreational use of cannabis products, indoor and outdoor cultivation, wholesale operations, processing, manufacturing, and testing and research are permitted in certain zones and must be treated like any other business be treated .

“If it’s a permitted use, then the use itself is really not an issue,” Fillion said. “The law also provides for the possibility of establishing a local cannabis licensing oversight body. That’s something that hasn’t been decided for Brattleboro yet. That will be a decision of the Select Board.”

However, unlike liquor licenses — which the Select Board approves as the Liquor Commission — there is no local authority that limits the number of retail cannabis establishments, Fillion said.

The Brattleboro Development Review Board has already approved a location plan for a cultivation facility at the Vermont Agricultural Business Education Center and will open it on April 18.

There are some local regulations that apply to grow facilities, Fillion noted, and that includes odor control.

“Just like with a restaurant, an exhaust can impact neighboring properties,” she said.

The state is currently accepting applications for integrated licenses for those who grow, sell, manufacture, test and sell cannabis.

According to Law 164, retail sales can begin on October 1 through licensed stores.

“It’s conceivable that we could see a cannabis retail store on October 1st if everything were right,” Fillion said.

Like alcohol, public consumption of cannabis products is not permitted. But unlike alcohol, the consumption of cannabis will not be allowed in shops or other businesses.

“There will be no bars serving cannabis,” Fillion said. “This time they’re not allowed to stay anywhere in the state.”

Fillion said there are still some details of Act 164 that are not entirely clear. The Vermont League of Cities and Towns is hosting an informational session this month where it hopes some of these questions can be answered.

According to the zoning plan, retail businesses are permitted in the city center, village center, service center, neighborhood center and in mixed-use neighborhoods. They are also allowed in the rural business district.

Utilization permits can be issued by the DRB for businesses in the residential area, on the waterfront and in industrial areas.

While cannabis can be grown in any city zone district, greenhouses are only permitted in service centers, neighborhood centers, and rural business districts.

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