In October 2020, S.54, Act 164 became law. This legislation outlines how Vermont will establish retail cannabis sales. The implementation of the legislation is still very much a work in progress. The Act empowers communities to create a local cannabis control commission and for such commission to condition issuance of a local license on any zoning bylaw adopted pursuant to 24 V.S.A §4414.
The purpose of this memo is to provide information on what zoning controls are authorized under the legislation. Many details have been left to be decided on by the State Cannabis Control Board which will be formed in 2021. As currently written, the law allows the following types of zoning regulations:
1. Zoning Districts: Zoning districts are used to influence the location and density of development. They designate which uses are allowed and which are not and include standards for development (such as building height, setbacks, and open space). Zoning districts are shown on a map.
2. Conditional Uses: Conditional uses are land uses that because of their special nature may require review by the Development Review Board. With a conditional use, the landowner (or user of the property) applies for a conditional use permit. The Development Review Board then reviews the application and makes a decision regarding the permit. If the permit is approved, it may include a list of conditions upon which the approval is granted. Those conditions become part of the permit.
3. Performance standards: Performance standards regulate quantifiable impacts of proposed development to prevent land uses from creating or contributing to impacts that affect neighboring properties. Performance standards describe the levels of operation that are acceptable and deal with items that can become a nuisance such as noise, odor, glare, and vibration.
4. Parking and loading facilities: Parking and loading facilities are used to make sure that development provide adequate off-street parking and loading to avoid congestion on surrounding streets.
5. Signs: Signage is a type of land use and therefore the size, type, height, and location of signs can be regulated.
These types of regulations already exist in Brattleboro’s Land Use and Development Regulations (referred to as the zoning bylaw).
Should the community vote to opt-in to retail cannabis, the Planning Commission will conduct a public process to consider whether the existing regulations are sufficient as written or whether changes are needed. In carrying out this duty, the Brattleboro Planning Commission will seek broad public involvement and keep its activities open and inclusive. It is the Planning Commission’s responsibility to draft zoning bylaws and the Selectboard’s responsibility to adopt them. If zoning amendments are proposed, the Planning Commission and Selectboard will both conduct formal public hearings, as required by law.