As we inch closer to recreational marijuana stores potentially opening in Springfield, some neighborhood councils are speaking out.
This comes after a city councilor sent a letter to nearly 20 neighborhoods, asking them to advocate for more time in establishing zoning regulations.
It's been a back and forth discussion between the city council and the neighborhood councils, but what are the rules and regulations behind retail pot shops opening?
Many are not opposed to shops opening, they say they just want it done correctly and thoroughly. Springfield City Council gave first step approval on August 29 to allow up to 15 marijuana retail shops in the city, with some limits and conditions.
Under the regulations, pot shops can only be on 58 streets, previously decided on by the council.
They must be located within a business zone or industrial zone, but not in residential zones. "I strongly feel that there should be appropriate setbacks from residences and homes so that these uses don't impact the quality of life for folks in our neighborhoods," said Springfield City Councilor Michael Fenton. Councilor Fenton said he's not opposed to shops in Springfield, and added the regulations don't give a buffer zone between future shops or a residential building within a business district. "The current proposal has no setbacks whatsoever. You could have a retail marijuana facility literally right next door, just a couple of feet away from a residence where somebody sleeps," Fenton noted. Victor Davila is the president of the Forest Park Civic Association.
He told Western Mass News the letter addressed some of their concerns too. "A lot of our people feel that there should be some sort of a buffer. There's also concern of the vague language of community input," said Davila.
"We are not opposed to this, we want this to be done in a careful manner, and with our input. Something that has been sorely lacking of so far," Davila continued. Councilor Fenton said he's also concerned about any parking requirements on the streets.
"With the number of off street parking spaces should be, is subject to negotiation and debate. Personally, I think it should be at least five spaces for every thousand square feet of retail use," Fenton added. Fenton will be having an informational meeting Wednesday night at 5 p.m. at the East Springfield Neighborhood Council building on 1437 Carew Street.
Copyright 2018 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.