Office of Mayor Domenic J. Sarno
CITY OF SPRINGFIELD INITIATES PROCESS TO PLAN FOR
THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE MEDICAL MARIJUANA LAW
October 25, 2013 -Springfield, MA- Mayor Domenic J. Sarno announced the beginning of a process to plan for the implementation in the City of Springfield (City) of the State Medical Marijuana Law and Department of Public Health regulations.
Mayor Sarno stated that: “The City’s intent in carrying out this process is to implement, at the local regulatory level, a careful balance of promoting compassionate, appropriate access for patients with needs; while mitigating security and community impacts. The City’s internal review committee has developed this process to assure a fair, comprehensive, and open planning process.”
Pursuant to last year’s Ballot Question 3, and regulations promulgated by the Commonwealth’s Department of Public Health (“DPH”) to implement the medical use of marijuana; Massachusetts became the 18th state in the nation, along with the District of Columbia, to approve the use of marijuana for medical purposes.
The Act eliminates state criminal and civil penalties for the medical use of marijuana by qualifying patients diagnosed with a “debilitating medical condition”. Under the statute, patients being treated for cancer, glaucoma, AIDS or HIV, Hepatitis C, ALS, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and other conditions as determined by a patient’s physician are eligible. The Act allows Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers (MMTCs) to; cultivate, process and provide, medical marijuana to patients or their caregivers.
In calendar year 2013, DPH may register up to 35 treatment centers statewide, with a minimum of one but no more than five centers per county. Under the DPH Phase 1 process, dispensary applicants were reviewed and applicants who met the DPH qualifications are eligible for the DPH Phase 2 process where a selection committee will conduct an in-depth review and select dispensaries through a competitive process. The DPH Phase II application is due to be filed with DPH on November 21, 2013. The DPH committee will evaluate and score DPH Phase 2 applications based on such factors as appropriateness of the site, geographical distribution of dispensaries, local support, and the applicant’s ability to meet the overall health needs of registered patients, while ensuring public safety.
Two DPH applicants have provided notice to the City of their intent to seek a MMTC in Springfield. The DPH applicants are: Debilitating Medical Condition Treatment Centers, Inc. and Baystate Compassion Center, Inc. The City is inviting these applicants to participate in the City’s Phase I process.
The City’s Phased application process is designed to help it coordinate its planning process and facilitate the implementation of the Act in parallel with the DPH. No DPH applicant has provided notice as to any potential sites at this time. The notices provided to the City pursuant to DPH regulations are not site specific. City Solicitor Edward M. Pikula stated: “The DPH regulations require that applicants engage with the local community, and this process is designed to provide a framework for doing so with input from all stakeholders.”
The Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PVPC) is working with cities and towns in the region to prepare a Model Zoning Bylaw/Ordinance. The City has participated in meetings with the PVPC and a draft of a model Zoning Bylaw/Ordinance is currently under discussion with the City’s planning staff and Medical Marijuana Internal Working Group. It is anticipated that the final regulations will include a “buffer zone” whereby no MMTC use or cultivation activities shall be located within a specified distance of a property line (the exact distance or distances to be determined), where activities or uses occur such as a: school, child care, or other places where minors frequent (e.g. a library, ball field, family recreation facility, religious facility or the like), other MMTC’s, a drug or alcohol treatment facility, correctional facility, half-way house or similar facility, any establishment licensed under the provisions of General Laws , Chapter 138 or other land uses which are potentially incompatible with MMTC facilities.
Each proposal submitted in response to the Phase I-RFQ/P will be evaluated by the City’s internal review group as determined by the Mayor. No applicants in Phase I will be disqualified from participating in Phase II. The information provided will be used in the City’s planning process to develop local land use, health and public safety regulations as necessary.
While the City’s zoning ordinance is still in the planning process, the submissions obtained in Phase I and II will be used by the City in the planning and development of the City’s zoning ordinance. Phase I will address criteria such as background, reputation and expertise, a summary of the initial concept as well as anticipated fiscal impacts.
The City intends to enter into a Host Community Agreement (“HCA”) with an enterprise desirous of locating an MMTC in the City that has complied with the DPH regulations. Any HCA that is negotiated after completion of the City’s Phase II RFQ/P process will be utilized in the City’s planning process and incorporated into any site plan review or other local permitting conditions or requirements.
The City is contemplating the use of a consultant to provide expert assistance is consideration of the Phase II applications and negotiation of agreements. By retaining a consultant the City hopes to assure that the criteria used and terms of any agreement are consistent with best practices within the industry and addresses the City’s concerns about land use regulation, public health, safety, and monitoring of operations for compliance with local regulations. The City will be requesting that any applicant agree to cover the costs of retaining such an expert. It is also anticipated that any agreement, or regulations imposed will include an annual fee to cover the costs of monitoring. In addition, the City may consider any and all relevant information about the proposer known to the City and any other criteria that may be set forth in the Phase II-RFQ/P.
1. Phase I-RFQ/P issued
October 24, 2013
2. Written questions from interested proposers concerning
Phase I- RFQ/P
November 5, 2013
3. Written responses from City to questions posted on Comm-PASS
November 12, 2013
4. Phase I-RFQ/P Responses due by 5:00 p.m.
December 4, 2013
5. City reviews responses and issues Phase II – RFQ/P to qualified responders
December 18, 2013
6. City holds information meeting for participants in Phase II- RFQ/P
December 20, 2012
7. Public Presentations by Applicants
8. Responses to Phase II-RFQ/P due by 4:00 p.m.
January 7, 2014
January 21, 2014
9. City announces name of proposer qualifying for right to negotiate agreement
February 17, 2014
10. City negotiates terms of agreement with proposer
February 17, 2013 to March 17, 2014
11. City enters into agreement with proposer
March 31, 2014
At their regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, October 28, 2013 the Springfield City Council is scheduled to take up the matter of interim zoning to coincide with the timetable to parallel the DPH licensing schedule. The City’s Planning Board and Public Health Council have voted unanimously in support of the moratorium
The City will maintain a website to keep the public informed as the planning process goes forward. When available the site can be accessed at www.Springfieldcityhall.com. The RFQ/P can be viewed and downloaded at: http://www.springfieldma.gov/planning/fileadmin/hhs/rfp102513EMP.pdf