Pittsfield – A third potential medical marijuana dispensary is prepared to set up shop in the city’s west end.
Manna Wellness is hoping to build a 3,500-square-foot retail store on a vacant lot along Callahan Drive near the Ice River Springs water bottling plant.
The Pittsfield Zoning Board of Appeals on Wednesday voted 4-1 to issue a special permit for the project – pending a license from the state Department of Public Health.
Two other groups have obtained a special permit from Pittsfield – Heka Health and Khem Organics – also await a license from the state. Currently, Northampton has the only medical marijuana dispensary in Western Massachusetts.
Company co-founder Julia Germaine said the dispensary would have more than 12 full- and part-time employees, with up to six employees on site at any one time. She expects the staff to serve 30 to 40 customers, who hold prescriptions for medical marijuana, daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Manna Wellness also plans to have dispensaries in Hudson and Framingham, with the medical marijuana cultivated in a separate facility in Worcester.
The Pittsfield facility is roughly half the size of one the company proposed in 2013 in the same area. That proposal, which included growing as well as selling the marijuana, failed to make it past the preliminary approval stage from the state and never came before the city.
Julie Golin was the only neighbor to oppose the proposed dispensary during Wednesday’s hearing. She worried about the impact on children in the area and surrounding residences.
“I question what it would do to our property values and re-sales down the road,” she said.
Golin also raised concerns about whether Manna Wellness would be able to sell to the general public if state voters approve a referendum on the Nov. 8 state ballot legalizing recreational use of marijuana.
But the city’s permitting coordinator, Nate Joyner, said that would require further city approval.
“We would consider that a change of use and [Manna Wellness] would have to come back to us,” he said.
The recreational marijuana referendum comes four years after the state’s electorate supported the production and sale of medical marijuana used to treat chronic medical conditions.
The ZBA’s endorsement of the new Manna Wellness plan comes a month after the board unanimously rejected an application by Happy Valley Compassion Center to convert the former Kentucky Fried Chicken at Lyman and East streets into a medical marijuana dispensary.
The board, siding with residents and business owners in that area, felt the dispensary didn’t belong in such a high-profile commercial district.
ZBA member Esther Bolen noted the Manna Wellness proposal was more suited for Callahan Drive.
“It’s in a light industrial zone, already surrounded by business,” she said.
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Full Article: Pittsfield ZBA Backs 3rd Medical Marijuana Dispensary
Author: Dick Lindsay
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