Broadway Marijuana Dispensary Comes Before ZBA Jan. 10

With some hesitation, the Planning Board recommended approval for a special permit and variances for a retail marijuana dispensary proposed for 307 Broadway.

The project will now go before the Zoning Board of Appeals on Jan. 10.

The applicant, Concrete Garden, withdrew an application with the ZBA for a special permit at the same location in the summer. Both the ZBA and Planning Board expressed reservations about the number of violations racked up by the owner of the property, Peach Enterprises.

Concrete Garden was back before the ZBA at its December meeting with a new proposal, which included the applicant working with the landlord to address the building code issues, as well as the use violations at the Broadway building.

“The reason we are in front of you again is because there were outstanding violations at this building, not in our unit per se, but in the building itself,” said Concrete Garden cofounder Vladimir Samuel. “On Sept. 9, we were able to receive a list from the city after having the city walk the building. In the past month, we have put in building permits and electrical permits as well as plumbing permits to remedy those violations. We do believe we will be able to begin that work in January, and we will be done and all violations will be remedied by March.”

As they were earlier in 2022, Planning Board members said they had no issues with Samuel or his business plan for a retail marijuana dispensary, but several said they were still concerned about the track record of the landlord, and about Samuel taking on too much responsibility to remedy his issues.

“Call me cynical, but I find it difficult to believe that this landlord who racked up so many violations is going to maintain the property in such a way that is necessary for a business of this type,” said Planning Board member Sharleen McLean.

A representative for the owner said all the issues at the building are addressable, and that special permits will be sought for the handful of businesses in the property who violate the use ordinance for the building.

“I don’t see why this is any different than your last appearance before us,” said Planning Board Chair Tuck Willis. “It sounds like you are making progress with those issues that were troubling to the board, and progress is great, but that is not a solution. I don’t really see how the board can recommend a special permit which involves a space which is technically illegal to occupy.”

Board member Mimi Rancatore agreed that she couldn’t recommend the special permit in good conscience.

“He has a history which is abysmal and he does not have any credibility with this,” she said about the landlord. “If this was another builder or landlord that had more credibility, I might be willing to trust him. I don’t trust this landlord.”

Planning Director John DePriest said he agreed that it is generally the landlord’s duty to deliver a product to the tenant.

“However, the tenant and the landlord have reached an agreement between them, and it’s really not an issue for the board to require the landlord to do it if they have worked out an agreement,” he said.

The Planning Board voted 4-2 to recommend approval to the ZBA, with the condition that all building code and building issues be addressed before final building and occupancy permits are issued. If those issues are not all addressed and met, DePriest said he will not sign off on the permits when they come before him.

“With great trepidation, I will vote in favor based on all of the conditions being met,” said McLean. “This is about (Samuel’s) business plan, (which) is great. My concern remains with the landlord doing all the work he said he would do.”

Willis and Rancatore voted against recommending approval.

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