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March 27, 2014

This Week in Haverhill

City seeks pot dispensary location

HAVERHILL — The city will re-start its search for the right location for a medical marijuana dispensary.

The City Council’s Administration and Finance Committee, which has taken the lead role in crafting zoning to control where a dispensary will be allowed, met on the issue for the first time last week.

The members agreed to hold regular meetings beginning April 17 and to invite the mayor’s Medical Marijuana Zoning Committee. That committee finished its work a few months ago by recommending an industrial area on Hale Street near Lafayette Square as the dispensary zone.

On Jan. 31, a nonprofit organization called Healthy Pharms Inc. was awarded one of 20 provisional state licenses to grow, process and sell medical marijuana out of an old furniture building at 114 Hale St. That proposal, which is contingent on the area being zoned for a dispensary, has hit several snags, however.

Concerns arose about dubious tactics and alleged misstatements made by the company in its application to the state for the Hale Street dispensary. City Council voted last month to ask the Attorney General’s Office to investigate the company’s Haverhill proposal and the state Public Health Department to reconsider its approval of the provisional license. Those state reviews are pending.

Since then, Mayor James Fiorentini said his committee was having second thoughts about siting a dispensary on Hale Street. Two of the zoning committee members — police Chief Alan DeNaro and Dr. Carl Rosenbloom, chairman of the city’s Board of Health — have said they no longer support Hale Street after learning the Healthy Pharms proposal would increase traffic on Hale Street by up to 300 vehicles per day. Hale Street is a part of the inner city, north of downtown and near homes.

“Hale Street never seemed right, with cars coming off Winter Street,” Councilor Mary Ellen Daly O’Brien said. “Traffic is already a mess there.”

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