Published in the November 30, 2016 edition.
By MARK SARDELLA
WAKEFIELD — The Board of Selectmen wants to keep any kind of commercial recreational marijuana activity out of Wakefield and will include a referendum question in next spring’s Town Election asking the voters to ban such businesses from locating in the town.
The decision comes in the wake of a statewide vote approving Question 4 on the Nov. 8 ballot approving recreational use and commercial sale of marijuana in Massachusetts. Wakefield voters, however, bucked the statewide trend and voted 8,159 to 7,339 against legalizing recreational marijuana.
Maio said that after Question 4 passed statewide, he participated in a meeting with Police Chief Rick Smith, Town Counsel Thomas Mullen and Health Director Ruth Clay to discuss how to handle the burdens that the new law places on cities and towns.
Maio noted that Wakefield has been on the forefront of the fight against substance abuse and he proposed a strategy with regard to recreational marijuana that reflects both the will of the electorate and that of the selectmen. He proposed putting a measure on the April Town Election ballot for the town to “opt out” of any retail or commercial marijuana business.
Town Counsel Thomas Mullen elaborated.
“We can have a bylaw in Wakefield under this new statute,” Mullen said, “that forbids recreational marijuana of all types — no manufacture, no cultivation, no retail distribution.” But, Mullen added that such a bylaw cannot simply be passed by Town Meeting like other bylaws. It has to clear a bigger hurdle.
“The hoop we have to jump through is a referendum vote,” Mullen said. “We have to put it on the ballot.” He said that when he, Maio, Chief Smith and Health Director Clay met, they decided that the first thing the town should do is put the question on the April Town Election ballot.
“If it passes,” Mullen said, “there’s not going to be any recreational marijuana business in Wakefield.”
Maio said that if the ballot measure does not pass, there may still be things the town can do to control the location of any such businesses through zoning restrictions.
The contemplated measure on the April 2017 Town Election ballot would apply only to commercial growing, cultivation and commercial sales. It would not restrict any other provisions of the law created with the passage of Question 4, such a home growing of marijuana for personal use.
Maio noted that there has been some talk that the state legislature may also step in and change some provisions of the law.
In other business this week, the Board of Selectmen:
• Approved a request from Library Director Sharon Gilley to accept and expend $4,791.21 in gifts from various donors.
• Appointed the following citizens to the Bylaw Review Committee: Cindy Schatz, 8 Cordis St.; Robert Vincent, 22 Flanders Lane; Brian McCoubrey, 82 Elm St. and Jeff Stikeman, 12 Humphrey St. On a motion by Selectman Phyllis Hull, the board named McCoubrey to chair the committee.
• Approved a request from Jane Fanjoy of the Wakefield Lions Club to have Santa’s Headquarters placed on the Common during the weeks of Nov. 28 through Dec. 23 and to have Santa arrive by fire engine on Dec. 10.
• Approved a change of manager for the liquor License at Sabatino’s Restaurant at 330 Main St. from Carmella Sabatino to Anthony Sabatino.
• Accepted a gift of $500 from The Savings Bank toward the sidewalk planters in Greenwood Square.