HOLYOKE, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) – A meeting is taking place Tuesday night between the Planning and Economic Development Committee and the Holyoke City Council, who will discuss zoning amendments for marijuana establishments in the Paper City.
Buffers are created in the cannabis industry to have distance between schools and residential areas.
Aaron Vega, Director of the Office Of Planning and Economic Development, told Western Mass News that there were a bunch of ordinance changes last year, and during that process, some things got messed up. There is now an ordinance that says a cannabis company cannot be located near anything in the city, which makes things very difficult.
Tuesday night, they hope to fix that buffer zone. Vega said that the planning board has already given their recommendation of 200 feet and it is not up to the City Council to discuss and decide on a buffer zone.
There has also been another issue of odor. Marijuana manufacturers need to mitigate the odor, but that is all the ordinance currently says, so Vega said that the City Council needs to look at strengthening that language and maybe adding penalties.
This comes after one business, Open Square located in downtown Holyoke, complained that there are some days when they can smell marijuana odor. However, Vega said that may not be from legal grow facilities.
“There’s probably illegal grow operations going on that have no air mitigation, odor mitigation controls, and are definitely being smelled. One of the things that Mayor Garcia and I are working on is maybe using some of the impact fee money to create sort of a task force to go after illegal grow operations,” Vega told us. “If they are smelling cannabis and it was from True Leaf, which is three blocks away toward 116 Bridge, it doesn’t matter if you’ve got a 200 foot, 500 foot, mile-long buffer, you’re still going to smell it.”
He said the buffer zone and odor issues are not necessarily related, as the odor is more of an enforcement issue whereas the buffer is how the city wants its neighborhoods to look.
He said the city will probably hire an air quality consultant to collect data and make recommendations and changes to these facilities.
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