At its final meeting before a summer hiatus, the Malden City Council took the first step towards finalizing were it would allow marijuana dispensaries throughout the city.
In a 9-2 vote at its June 26 meeting, the City Council enrolled an ordinance that regulates where marijuana dispensaries can reside in Malden. The vote came after a lengthy discussion process that included vetting from the Planning Board earlier this month and a unanimous approval of the Ordinance Committee earlier in the evening.
Under the ordinance, dispensaries can only be located within the city’s Industrial 1, Industrial 2 and Highway Business planning zones and cannot be within 500 feet of a school, 250 feet of a park or recreational area and 75 feet from residences, religious structures, substance abuse centers and state-licensed day-care centers. In addition, a special overlay district was created along Broadway opposite of Malden’s border with Melrose, exempting that area from the 75 foot requirement. As it stands, there are more than 50 parcels in the city that are allowed locations under these guidelines, the bulk of which are in the aforementioned overlay zone and in the industrial areas surrounding the Malden River. With the matter enrolled, the council will take the subject up at its next meeting to ordain the new ordinance, after which, should the vote be in favor, it will go into effect.
What passed by the city could was different than the Planning Board recommendations, which resulted from that body’s prior public meeting. While the distances from schools and park areas were the same, the Planning Board suggested that residences be allowed a 150 foot buffer. In an effort to allow more potential parcels, Councilor Stephen Winslow motioned in Ordinance Committee to reduce that 150 buffer to 75 and Councilor Jadeane Sica motioned to add the overlay area. Both passed unanimously in committee.
“I would think that this would be the best place,” said Sica in committee of the overlay district.
Though the reduced buffer passed in committee, there was some opposition to it elsewhere in the council. Councilor Barbara Murphy motioned to bring that number back up to 150 feet.
“As a homeowner, I know I would not want one of these establishments within 75 feet of my home,” she said. Her motion failed, with only Councilors Paul Condon, John Matheson and Ryan O’Malley joining Murphy in favor.
In the end, just Condon and Murphy voted against the paper as a whole.