Pot shop proponent

Caroline Pineau wants to open a recreational marijuana shop at 124 Washington St., Haverhill.

HAVERHILL — A second lawsuit has been filed in the conflict over a proposed recreational marijuana business on Washington Street.

Last week, the three owners of two businesses that are located near the 124 Washington St. site where Caroline Pineau intends to establish a store selling recreational marijuana sued the city for allowing her to undertake this venture. The City Council passed a zoning change in January that permits marijuana businesses in that section of the downtown.

Pineau's suit contends Bradford Brooks and Lloyd Jennings "have engaged in a pattern and practice of threatening, extorting, intimidating and/or suing a business neighbor for their own financial gain."

Brooks and Jennings, along with Steve Dimakis, owner of Mark's Deli, 2 Railroad Square, are the plaintiffs in the suit filed against the city. Dimakis is not named as a defendant in Pineau's lawsuit.

Pineau, doing business as Haverhill Stem LLC, alleges in the lawsuit that Brooks and Jennings have demanded $30,000 from her. The previous owner of 124 Washington St., the Victor Emmanuel Lodge of the Sons of Italy, objected when Brooks and Jennings planned to build a deck at the rear of the adjacent property, according to Pineau's suit. 

The lodge contended the deck would intrude 15 feet onto its property. Brooks and Jennings settled the dispute by agreeing to also construct a deck for the lodge, the suit contends.

The city approved, the two decks were built – but then the Sons of Italy sold its property to Westland Group LLC, in which Pineau's father has an interest.

Brooks and Jennings, however, insisted Pineau owed them $30,000 for the deck and eventually increased their demand to $75,000, according to Pineau's lawsuit.

Attorney Thomas MacMillan of Haverhill filed the lawsuit in Superior Court on behalf of Pineau. The lawsuit asks the court to order Brooks and Jennings to stop threatening Pineau and seeks damages "to be determined at trial."

The lawsuit that Brooks, Jennings and Dimakis filed against the city was initially scheduled to be heard in the state Land Court. The suit has been moved to U.S. District Court because it includes federal issues, according to City Solicitor William Cox.

Their lawsuit notes that while marijuana has been legalized in Massachusetts, the drug is still prohibited by federal laws.  

Pineau, a professional businesswoman who for the past eight and a half years has operated The Yoga Tree, a community yoga studio on Washington Street, told The Eagle-Tribune that she has never experienced anything like this before, in regards to the lawsuit by Jennings and Brooks.

"It's become apparent that these opponents are doing everything they can to prevent us from moving forward," she said. "Legal action is the very last thing I wanted, but I had no choice given the situation."

Pineau said she feels overwhelmed with the amount of support she has received from both Haverhill citizens and elected officials throughout her 16 month-long effort to open a professionally run cannabis dispensary.

"I think a well run legal shop in downtown Haverhill will generate more business for all merchants and will fulfill the will of Haverhill voters who strongly supported legalization in 2016," she said.

At its June 11 meeting, the City Council approved the first special permit allowing Full Harvest Moonz to open a retail cannabis shop at 101 Plaistow Road.

Pineau is scheduled to go before the council next Tuesday for a special permit to open Haverhill Stem on Washington Street.

According to City Clerk Linda Koutoulas, other organizations that have applied for special permits to open retail cannabis shops in Haverhill are CNA Stores Inc., which proposes a shop at 558 River St.; Mellow Fellows, which wants to open a shop at the former Seafood Etc. restaurant at 330 Amesbury Road; and Haverwell Market LLC, which proposes a shop at 399 Amesbury Road behind the Mobil gas station.