City getting 4th pot shop

Courtesy photoThis is an artist rendering by Fishbrook Design Studio architect Matthew Juros, illustrating what Mellow Fellows marijuana shop at 330 Amesbury Road in Haverhill will look like.

Retail marijuana is coming to 330 Amesbury Road after Mayor James Fiorentini signed a host community agreement with city residents Phil Brown, Tim Riley and Charles Emery to open Mellow Fellows pot shop.

By signing the contract required by the state Cannabis Control Commission, Fiorentini has made Mellow Fellows the fourth pot shop cleared to open in Haverhill.

The store will join Washington Street's Stem shop, River Street's CNA Stores, and Full Harvest Moonz on the Plaistow border.

The Mellow Fellows owners now must secure a license from the state before being able to sell marijuana.

In a victory for Amesbury Road neighbors who protested Mellow Fellows since it was proposed at the site of the former Seafood Etc. restaurant, Fiorentini ordered the shop owners to set aside $25,000 for the installation of a new traffic light. Residents who are concerned about traffic asked for the light. The request is being considered by the state Department of Transportation, which has jurisdiction over the state road.

The exact location of the proposed light was not mentioned in the agreement. Neighbors who attended a community outreach meeting in December requested it be installed at the Interstate off-ramp to Route 110.

MassDOT spokeswoman Kristen Pennucci said the state has not received a permit application or “any formal correspondence from the city of Haverhill regarding potential traffic mitigation measures.”

When addressing neighbor concerns about traffic and crime at the December outreach meeting, Mellow Fellows attorney Jim Smith said he expects the initial honeymoon period of retail cannabis consumption will have worn off by the time the shop welcomes its first customer.

“I would estimate that by the time we open the store, it’ll be a year or more. We might be the hundredth store open in the commonwealth and I wouldn’t anticipate a line,” Smith said, noting that the busiest day for cannabis sales is Saturday.

Customers wanting shop at Mellow Fellows must make an appointment in advance, with appointments capped at four every 15 minutes.

Additional appointments must be approved by police Chief Alan DeNaro, fire Chief William Laliberty, City Engineer John Pettis and the mayor.

Eighteen parking spaces are set aside to accommodate shoppers making purchases in the 1,600-square-foot building, with additional room for employees to park in the back of the store. While an overflow parking lot is being leased, it is not expected to be necessary.

As an added safety measure, a gate at the entrance to the property will be installed. The Mellow Fellows team has agreed to keep the gate closed and locked 30 minutes after the shop's daily closing until 30 minutes prior to its opening.

Mellow Fellows owners were awarded their special permit by the City Council last August by a vote of 7-1. Councilor Joseph Bevilacqua voted against issuing the permit. Michael McGonagle abstained from the vote, since he is the property's landlord, along with his sister Kathy McGonagle Darby, through their Mac and D Realty partnership.

Controversy followed the proposal almost from the start. In addition to facing opposition from residents, owners went up against Christopher Edwards, a fellow marijuana shop hopeful who petitioned the council, also last August, to open at 339 Amesbury Road.

The businesses would have been within a half mile of one another and disputed which company submitted a completed application to the city first. Intending to operate as Haverwell Market, Edwards withdrew his application a month later after councilors questioned his financial backing and other specifics about his business plan.

Amesbury Road abutter Steven Eddy filed a civil lawsuit contesting the special permit for Mellow Fellows in October. That suit was dismissed Nov. 13.

Per state regulations, Haverhill must allow for up to six marijuana licenses to be issued. That number translates to 20% of the number of liquor licenses issued in the city.

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