EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


November 19, 2013

Haverhill's pot debate

Neighbors, company wage verbal war over medical marijuana center

HAVERHILL — Two areas of the city that were being targeted for a potential medical marijuana dispensary have been given a reprieve until at least Feb. 25.

A zoning proposal the City Council has been considering would have allowed the facilities in either the Ward Hill Business Park in Bradford or the inner-city Hale Street industrial area just outside Lafayette Square. The proposals have drawn opposition from neighbors in both areas, including a petition signed by 100 Ward Hill residents.

City officials began last night’s public hearing on the issue by filing a new proposal that eliminated the Ward Hill park from the medical marijuana zone and narrowed the proposal to a section of the Hale Street industrial area, which includes about dozens of properties on Hale Street.

Valerio Romano, a lawyer for a medical marijuana facility applicant eyeing Haverhill, said his client has an agreement to lease a property on Hale Street and open one of the first medical marijuana facilities in the state, pending council approval of the zoning.

That approval didn’t happen, however.

Councilors said they had too little time to consider the new proposal, which they said they received Monday. They voted unanimously last night to continue the city’s temporary ban on such facilities to Feb. 25.

Councilors also sent the proposal to a study committee that is expected to hold public meetings before deciding where the facilities will be allowed.

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. Romano declined to identify his client last night, but did make an argument in favor of the Hale Street location.

“Haverhill should approve the Hale Street zone for the benefit of people who are sick and need it (medical marijuana) to feel better,’’ he said.

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