EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


November 18, 2013

Group fights medical pot plan

Neighbors organize to keep center away from their homes

HAVERHILL — About 100 residents have signed a petition opposing a zoning proposal that would allow a medical marijuana dispensary in the Ward Hill Business Park.

Other people living in and around the inner-city Acre neighborhood are organizing to oppose the same zoning measure, which would allow a medical marijuana dispensary in the Hale Street industrial area just outside Lafayette Square.

People from both groups plan to attend tonight’s City Council meeting to present their petitions and urge councilors to reject the zoning proposal. The meeting is at 7 p.m. in City Hall.

At least two applicants for medical marijuana facilities in the area are targeting Haverhill — the Cardiac Arrhythmia Syndromes Foundation based in Andover and Creative Botanical Development, according to state applications for dispensary licenses that are being made available in Essex County.

Earlier this year, state Attorney General Martha Coakley ruled communities cannot prohibit dispensaries from opening within their borders, but can regulate the specific locations where they are allowed.

In recent months, the Haverhill council has passed a series of moratoriums on marijuana centers, while officials develop a proposal that would limit them to specific areas of the city. The latest moratorium is set to expire today unless the council continues it.

The zoning measure, which requires six votes from the nine-member council to pass, was developed by planning officials and a committee formed by Mayor James Fiorentini. The city is obligated by law to find a place in Haverhill where a medical marijuana facility can apply for a permit, the mayor said.

“There is no place in the city where we could change the zoning to allow them that some neighbors aren’t going to object,” Fiorentini said.

If and when the zone is approved, proposals from specific companies would require a special permit from the council to go forward, the mayor said.

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