At the Ayer Special Town Meeting on June 24, I'm going to vote against the moratorium on the zoning use "marijuana dispensary" in the town of Ayer. I understand our Planning Board and our Board of Selectmen support this moratorium.
It is the job of our Planning Board to recommend which uses are appropriate in various zones of our town. A yes vote on this moratorium is simply a no-confidence vote in our town government's ability to handle this issue. It kicks the can down the road far enough that we won't likely have to worry about it for some time. Within a year, all 35 licenses allowed by the state legislature are likely to be assigned.
This is an interesting lesson in zoning in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In Massachusetts, any use not explicitly included in the zoning is not allowed. This is fine when you think generally about a house or a business or a park. When you get into the fine details of a general business district, as the proposed dispensary is located within on Central Ave., you run into complications.
When you start letting the government finely define which businesses can and cannot exist, we run directly into freedoms guaranteed to us as Americans by the Constitution. We should not allow our government to choose which businesses succeed and which fail.
The current zoning on Central Ave. allows the use of the building proposed for the "pot" dispensary. It is very difficult to draft a zoning regulation which excludes all uses that might pop up in the future. Indeed, it would be awful to have this type of zoning. This is especially true in a business district.
If valid reasons are brought forth to exclude this specific use from this location (i.e., the APD Chief has suggested the location is too close to the Ayer Library), let them be discussed and let the Ayer Planning Board take this input and come to an informed decision.
To simply put a moratorium in place puts the burden on other communities in Massachusetts to deal with this issue in the next year. This is not right. Let the Ayer Planning Board do its job. Go to Special Town Meeting. Vote no on the moratorium.