Haverhill Implementing ‘Buffer Zone’ Around Proposed Pot Shops to Protect Kids

(File photograph.)

All licensed marijuana establishments must be situated 500 feet from schools, churches and other places where children congregate, the City of Haverhill says. (File photograph)

As Haverhill’s zoning plan pertaining to retail marijuana shops, cultivation facilities and research labs continues to take shape, city officials are doing all they can to protect local children from coming across the now-legal drug.

In a draft of the municipal ordinance up for discussion at a Tuesday Council subcommittee meeting, the City of Haverhill vows to create a “buffer zone” of 500 feet, making sure that schools, parks and churches are well separated from all marijuana-related operations.

Documents obtained by WHAV detail the provision that is put in place “to minimize any adverse impacts of adult use marijuana establishments on adjacent properties, dense or concentrated residential areas, schools and other places where children congregate.”

The city classifies a licensed marijuana establishment as a cultivator, product manufacturer, testing lab or retail location. All locations must secure a special permit—including a site and security plan, traffic study and state license approval—and be subject to annual inspections by Haverhill’s building inspector.

Libraries, childcare facilities, playgrounds and youth centers are also within the buffer zone, the ordinance outlines.

In his draft ordinance, City Solicitor Bill Cox confirms that all marijuana-related locations may not be open or dispensing product between the hours of 9 p.m. and 9 a.m. and may not open before noon on Sundays. Consumption of the drug is only permitted at social consumption establishments or research labs, Cox said.

With the city’s moratorium on cannabis sales lifted starting on December 1, downtown business owner Caroline Pineau is the sole applicant to make her plans for a potential retail space public. In July, the Yoga Tree Studio owner told WHAV she intends to open a “safe, secure and sophisticated” shop called STEM, should the City Council opt to zone for downtown retail locations.

Given the fact that Haverhill has issued a total of 26 liquor licenses, the city must not grant approval for more than five licensed marijuana establishments.

The City Council Administration and Finance subcommittee of Colin F. LePage, Mary Ellen Daly O’Brien, Melinda E. Barrett and William J. Macek convenes Tuesday at City Hall for a 7 p.m. public meeting to discuss the results of a recent zoning field trip. Commercial and highway zones are up for discussion, chairman LePage told WHAV.