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Needham selectmen pursue moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries

Posted by Evan Allen  January 23, 2013 11:54 AM

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The Needham Board of Selectmen on Tuesday night voted on a medical marijuana moratorium, a new name for the New England Business Center and a suspension of the Sheraton Needham Hotel’s liquor license, according to selectman Moe Handel.

Moratorium

The board voted to pursue a moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries and cultivation in town, asking the Planning Board to draft a zoning amendment that will come before Town Meeting in May.

In November, voters in Massachusetts approved the legalization of medical marijuana, which will allow patients with diseases such as AIDS, Crohn’s disease and other painful illnesses to possess marijuana for personal use; the law also allows for up to 35 medical marijuana dispensaries in the state.

The state Board of Health is in the process of writing regulations to guide the law’s implementation, but those regulations are not due until May 1. The moratorium will allow Needham time to draft its own bylaws and regulations.

“We felt it was responsible for the town to have the time to prepare the right way to deal with this issue,” said Handel.

Needham is not alone in pursuing a moratorium. The town of Wellesley will be voting on a moratorium on dispensaries at its Town Meeting. Burlington’s Town Meeting will also consider a moratorium.

The moratorium that Needham is drafting would last until March 1, 2014.

Liquor license suspension

The Sheraton Needham Hotel will face a one-day suspension of its liquor license after a sting by the Needham Police caught a bartender serving a minor on Nov. 29 of last year. The date of the suspension has not yet been decided, said Handel.

“They’re very, very concerned, and they expressed that in a forceful way,” said Handel, of management at the Sheraton. “I feel completely comfortable that they will be aggressive in doing everything they can to prevent this from happening again.”

The violation was the hotel’s first, according to general manager Gurki Singh.

New England Business Center gets a new name

The New England Business Center is no more: the Board of Selectmen voted to rename the business park “Needham Crossing.”

The park is in the midst of what the town hopes is a transformation from sleepy business park to high-tech corridor: Special Town Meeting recently voted on a tax break for online travel giant TripAdvisor to move from Newton to Needham, and town officials say the company could be a game-changer.

The name change is intended to give the park character.

“Calling it the New England Business Center, we didn’t give it a distinctly Needham identity,” said Handel. “The name doesn’t have any particular charm to it, or any function, that would allow any kind of edge in marketing.”

Evan Allen can be reached at evan.allen@globe.com

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