HAVERHILL — The battle to do marijuana business on Amesbury Road continues Wednesday night when the trio behind the Mellow Fellows pot shop hosts a second community outreach meeting to address public concerns.
Awarded their special permit by the City Council in August, E. Philip Brown, Timothy Riley and Charles Emery initially met with locals in April. However, since Mayor James Fiorentini did not sign their host community agreement within six months, the state Cannabis Control Commission requires that they hold another meeting.
According to their Boston-based attorney, Jim Smith, the meeting is simply another formality in the long road to licensure.
“The CCC doesn’t monitor the hearings or ask for any result, just that we held the hearing,” Smith said.
The group was issued a permit after all councilors — with the exception of Joseph Bevilacqua — voted to support the project last summer.
Following an hours'-long special permit hearing where several neighbors voiced concerns over parking, traffic and crime, officials allowed Mellow Fellows to move forward in the city's marijuana pipeline.
Customers would be required to make appointments to shop at Mellow Fellows. In an effort to mitigate neighbor concerns, appointments were capped at four every 15 minutes.
Elliott Street neighbor Daniel McDonald was among those to speak out last summer in opposition of the proposed shop. He implored councilors to consider the “quality-of-life” impact on locals.
“The quality of life in that area is going to go down, as well as the property values,” McDonald said at the time. “At some point, the City Council has to look at the best interests of its residents at heart.”
At the same hearing, neighbor Mitch Forman worried about the shop's proximity to New Hampshire, where marijuana is not yet legal.
“People in New Hampshire can’t go back to New Hampshire: It’s illegal. Where are they going to smoke it? You want Haverhill to be full of people in their cars smoking dope and just walking around? That is an unfavorable business solution,” Forman said.
Councilor Mary Ellen Daly O'Brien told the Mellow Fellows owners she was optimistic their business model could evolve as time went on.
“What we’re giving you is an avenue to success. If you start here, it’s not going to last long. It could only be two weeks,” she said at the time. “I don’t think that’s a lot to ask to get the bugs out.”
The Mellow Fellows owners are leasing their property, the former 1,600-square-foot Seafood Etc. space, from City Councilor Michael McGonagle and his sister Kathy McGonagle Darby, through Mac and D realty.
Given his conflict of interest, McGonagle abstained from all marijuana-related votes.
Fiorentini has so far contracted with three local shop owners to sell marijuana in the city.
Caroline Pineau plans to open Stem at 124 Washington St., Rob DiFazio is setting up CNA Stores at 558 River St., and Janet Kupris will operate Full Harvest Moonz at 95 Plaistow Road.