Oak Bluffs selectmen want moratorium on medical marijuana

— File photo by Mae Deary

Oak Bluffs selectmen have directed town administrator Bob Whritenour to prepare town meeting warrant articles asking voters to impose a moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries and approve a bylaw banning public use of medical marijuana. The questions would appear on the warrant for the spring town meeting.

The selectmen’s consensus emerged following a discussion of measures the town might take to manage implementation of the medical marijuana law that took effect January 1.

“There are certainly lots of people who say they don’t want this, period,” selectman Greg Coogan said. “But there are lots of people who voted for this, so it’s going to happen. We have to decide how it’s going to happen.”

Selectmen are also considering a proposal from the planning board to change zoning bylaws to restrict dispensaries to the hospital zoning district.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, selectmen endorsed a needs study for a new public safety building for fire and ambulance services. The build would not include a new police station. At a fall town meeting, voters appropriated $25,000 for a study.

“The fire and EMS station, the building needs for those departments are separate and distinct from the needs of the police department,” town manager Bob Whritenour said. “We can’t do everything at once.”

Selectmen set a public hearing for their next meeting, February 26, to gather information on a proposal to create a land use agreement for Old Holmes Hole Road, a public way between Barnes Road and County Road. Over the years, the old road has become overgrown and blocked by debris. The proposal would give the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank responsibility to manage and maintain the path.

The board referred a project to create a town owned harbor fuel facility to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC) for review. The MVC approved a temporary facility three years ago, but the project has evolved into a permanent facility, and will require further review.

Mr. Whritenour reported that the town is on track to meet its financial goals, with local receipts running ahead of schedule and spending tracking exactly on schedule for the current fiscal year.