Critical zoning amendments on tap for Monday

Jan 10, 2019 by

Posted on: Tuesday, January 8, 2019

The Board of Aldermen and Planning Board will be holding a Joint Public Hearing on Monday, January 14th to discuss proposed zoning amendments for affordable housing and adult-use (recreational) marijuana.   The public hearings will be held in the Aldermanic Chamber on the first floor of City Hall.  The Affordable Housing Amendment is scheduled for 7:30PM and the zoning amendment for Marijuana Establishments is scheduled for 8:30PM.  Members of the public are encouraged to provide comments as the Boards consider these important regulations.

Affordable Housing Zoning Amendment Hearing
Monday, January 14th at 7:30PM – Aldermanic Chamber, Melrose City Hall

The purpose of the Affordable Housing Zoning Amendment is to increase the supply of affordable housing in the City of Melrose, clarify the current process and language of the affordable housing regulations, and meet the Commonwealth’s mandate for having 10% of housing units designated as affordable in a way that does not stifle housing development.  The major element of the updated Affordable Housing Incentive Program is an increase in the percentage of units that are required to be affordable from 10% to 15%.  This Zoning Amendment will not change the number of units that trigger the affordable housing requirement, but will provide a two-tiered approach for the regulations around payment in lieu, fractional payout, and permitting, which will result in more clarity and certainty for developers and more affordable housing for the community.

Marijuana Establishments Zoning Amendment Hearing
Monday, January 14th at 8:30PM – Aldermanic Chamber, Melrose City Hall

Residents of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts voted to authorize the adult use of recreational marijuana and the licensing of marijuana establishments during the general election on November 8, 2016 as a part of the ballot initiative known as “Question 4.”  Melrose residents voted 51.6% to 48.4% on Question 4, with the majority in favor of authorizing adult use marijuana.  The purpose of Marijuana Establishments Zoning Amendment is to regulate adult use marijuana establishments following the end of the moratorium on this use, which expired on December 31, 2018.

The proposed zoning establishes a Special Permit process for regulating the new uses related to marijuana, including marijuana retailers and other uses such as cultivators, testing labs, research facilities and the like.  As proposed, the zoning would allow marijuana retailers in the BB and I Districts (located along the Newbury Turnpike) and in the I-A District on Lower Washington Street.  The Planning Board selected these districts for consideration because they are outside of the 500 foot buffer zone from K-12 schools, a restriction allowed in the state regulations, and are transit accessible locations, which should minimize issues related to traffic and parking.  Since the non-retail marijuana establishment types are expected to have limited impacts on their surrounding areas, the Planning Board supports allowing them in all Business (BA-1/BA-2/BB/BB-1/BC/BD) Districts and the Industrial (I) District

Municipalities can cap the number of marijuana retailers at 20% of the number of package stores in the community. While this means that the City of Melrose could cap the number of retailers at one, the Planning Board recommends capping the number at two in order to better serve the market for the area, encourage competition, and generate additional revenue for the City.  Ultimately, the Board of Aldermen will decide on the number of marijuana retailers to allow, the appropriate zoning districts and all other aspects of the zoning.  Public input is a key consideration so residents are encouraged to read the proposal (links are provided below and on the City’s webpage), attend the public hearing and submit comments to the Board of Aldermen.

Click here to view the proposed zoning amendments prepared by the Planning Board and submitted to the Board of Aldermen.

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