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Two Pot Shops OK’d by Planners

November 22, 2018

A man wearing a Potsquatch" costume poses outside the New England Treatment Access cannabis dispensary dispensary on the first day of legal recreational marijuana sales Tuesday in Northampton. NETA is one of the first two shops permitted to sell recreational marijuana in the eastern United States, more than two years after Massachusetts voters approved it in 2016. Leon Nguyen/The Republican via AP Sentinel and Enterprise staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

FITCHBURG -- Two marijuana businesses pursuing recreational retail sales or cultivation gained Planning Board approval, allowing the establishments to apply for building permits.

Colonial Cannabis, which plans to open an adult-use retail store at the Water Street Plaza, obtained a special permit and Blue Collar Botany, which aims to run a cultivation operation at 644 River St., received site plan approval and a special permit, said Mike O’Hara, principal planner for the city. He said the approvals at the board’s Nov. 13 meeting are part of a wave of applications it has seen.

“It seems for the past year most of the Planning Board agendas have had at least one cannabis-related applicant on it,” he said. “Regardless, things have been going steady.”

Now that the two businesses have their special permits and site plan approval, they can submit building plans and fire safety plans with the city, O’Hara said. They may also need to go through other processes, like approval through the Board of Health if they want to offer food products like edibles, he said.

The Patient-Caregiver Connection, which was also on the Planning Board’s agenda, had its public hearing continued to Dec. 11.

That business, which is pursuing retail sales, wants to offer valet parking at 373 Lunenburg St., which is on the border with Lunenburg.

O’Hara said there was discussion about how the valet would affect the flow of traffic in the area. The site is a small lot with a small driveway and there is a business operating next to it, he said.

There is no cap on the number of cultivation facilities allowed in the city, but seven is the maximum for retail shops, O’Hara said.

So far, the Planning Board has approved a total of five businesses for recreational retail sales and seven for cultivation, he said, adding that some of those operations are co-located.

Meanwhile, the first two recreational-sale pot shops opened Tuesday, Cultivate dispensary in Leicester, and the New England Treatment Access dispensary in Northampton. Both had long lines for their first day of sales.

The Fitchburg board expects to hold public hearings for applicants at future meetings, O’Hara said. His office also continues to receive inquiries from prospective businesses interested in opening marijuana establishments in the city.

There have been businesses that gained board approval earlier in the year and are still doing building work. Money could be a factor of why some haven’t opened yet, he said.

“Just because they receive permits, it doesn’t mean they will do something with a building,” O’Hara said.

Follow Mina on Twitter @mlcorpuz

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