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11/16/2012 8:56:00 AM
Lyndon Planning Commission to Trustees: Ordinance to Ban Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

LYNDONVILLE -- A consensus of the Lyndonville Village Trustees at their most recent meeting to not permit a medical marijuana dispensary in the community was discussed this week at the Lyndon Planning Commission meeting, where the board agreed to suggest to trustees they adopt an ordinance prohibiting such a use.

The discussion was brief on the issue, which has been coming up across Vermont as the state has permitted up to four medical marijuana dispensaries to operate. Two of whose locations have already been decided for Waterbury and Burlington, but the other two locations have yet to be announced. Applications are not public, but the application process has closed.

Some communities have begun putting up road blocks to make sure the two remaining dispensaries don't come knocking, among them Rutland and Stowe, who each dealt with the issue differently. Rutland's board of aldermen passed an ordinance banning the dispensaries, while in Stowe, the planning commission wrote medical marijuana dispensaries into a list of prohibited uses along with junk yards and drive-throughs. The town of Fair Haven is also looking at how to keep dispensaries out of the community, but had not passed any changes yet to its zoning regulations, an official there said.

For Lyndonville's part, the trustees briefly touched on the issue at the end of a recent meeting, and while they did not vote formally, Municipal Administrator Dan Hill said the board' s consensus was they did not want a medical marijuana dispensary. The Lyndon Select Board, who also has talked a bit about the issue, has asked the planning commission to look into the issue and the board and Zoning Administrator Justin Smith have been doing just that in recent weeks and are sending along that information to the select board, Smith said on Wednesday evening.

It will be up to the select board if they want to pass an ordinance, the quickest route, officials have said, to prohibiting a medical marijuana dispensary from siting here, or whether they want to go the route that Stowe officials did, and add it to the zoning bylaws, said Smith.

The town could potentially have one way to deal with this, and the village another, Smith said.

Hill, the municipal administrator, on Thursday said, the select board will be discussing the issue at its Dec. 3 meeting. "Yes, the Town and Village can go different directions if they choose."

Of the process for the trustees to adopt an ordinance, Hill explained, "They would adopt an ordinance which would then go in the paper and in five public places. If nobody objected, it would take effect in 60 days."

The ordinance issue for the village is being recommended now because of the trustees' fast decision on the issue.

"Basically the trustees took it up a couple of weeks ago and they wanted it banned in the village," said Smith.

"So we are suggesting that they go ahead and move forward with an ordinance," noted Dan Daley, chairman of the town's planning commission.

If the select board ends up opting for the issue to be taken up in the zoning bylaws, it would affect the whole town, including the village, said Smith, "because zoning covers the whole town versus ordinances."

"We don't have any direction from the select board now," said Smith, but the trustees did give direction, and that's why a recommended ordinance for the trustees to adopt banning medical marijuana dispensaries is the planning commission's recommendation this week.

"We are recommending to them that they move forward with an ordinance similar to what Rutland did," said Smith. "We are awaiting further feedback from the select board and we've provided or will provide them with the additional information," on the issue, he said. "If both boards are in agreement, it would make sense to do town-wide zoning," he said.

Planning Commission member Ryan Noyes said, "Having clear direction from the elected officials is going to make our job easier."

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