Planning Board Denies Approval for Retail Marijuana Dispensary

A retail marijuana facility proposed for 307 Broadway will have to find a new location.

Last week, the Planning Board voted not to approve the site plan and special permit recommendations for Concrete Garden, Inc. The issue wasn’t with the proponent, who was seeking to renovate the first floor of the building, but with the owner, Peach Enterprises, Inc.

Vladimir Samuel, the director of Concrete Garden, appeared before the Planning Board in early May and asked to come back to address pending building code violations at 307 Broadway. Samuel said he received a letter from the inspectional services department stating there were repairs needed at the address, as well as repairs that were made without a permit, but that he was not given a list of specific violations which he could address.

“I spoke to the building inspector, Mike McAteer … and I asked if there had been any attempts to address the building codes or the zoning codes, and he told me there were no new building permits issued to address the code issues and nothing about uses there without an occupancy permit,” said Permitting and Land Use Planning Director John DePriest.

City Manager Thomas Ambrosino said he was empathetic toward the applicant, but said the owner of the property has outstanding substantial violations that have gone unaddressed.

“Most of these matters are with the City Solicitor’s office and we are engaged in potential litigation with this owner and as far as I know … they are unresolved,” said Ambrosino. “It is the city’s position, my administration’s position, that no zoning relief should be granted to the owner of this building while the outstanding issues remain unresolved. I recognize that this creates a hardship for this particular applicant, but I would suggest that perhaps the applicant look for another building where the owner is not in such violation of city ordinances.”

City Council President Roy Avellaneda said the issues at 307 Broadway date back for more than a decade, and include a number of safety violations as well as renting out space for illegal storage and to illegal businesses. Avellaneda also suggested the applicant find a building without the laundry list of issues and violations at 307 Broadway.

“Mr. Samuel, if it was me, I would look for another building, but that is  not the official position of this board,” said Planning Board Chair Tuck Willis. “Quite frankly, I can’t imagine you would want to get involved any further than you have already. I sympathize with your position and the amount of effort expended on this, but I think you are dealing with an individual who is not cooperative, certainly with the city, and potentially with you.”

Willis and several other board members said that the application for the business itself was a very good one, and that they hoped to see Samuel before them soon with a new location.

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