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Up in arms over Peabody pot district

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
A proposed medical marijuana zone that runs along four parcels on Route 1 North from Bertucci’s to Don’s Power Equipment and includes a large parcel of undeveloped land is being met with opposition from Lynnfield residents.

By ADAM SWIFT

LYNNFIELD — A Peabody plan that could bring medical marijuana sales to their doorsteps is upsetting some South Lynnfield residents.

The Peabody City Council and Planning Board are holding a joint hearing Thursday night on a proposed medical marijuana zone on a stretch of Route 1 North. The zone, proposed by Mayor Edward A. Bettencourt Jr., would be tucked away from residential neighborhoods in the city.

But Lynnfield residents on Green Street said they are afraid that what’s best for Peabody isn’t what’s best for them. Those residents have support from selectmen, who sent a letter to Bettencourt and the council opposing the proposed zoning change.

“That area can only be accessed through Green Street, a Lynnfield residential street,” said selectmen Chairman Christopher Barrett. “I’ve asked (Town Administrator) Jim Boudreau to draft a letter of strong opposition from my fellow selectmen to approve to bring to the (meeting) on Thursday night.”

Barrett said the residents of the Green Street neighborhood have dealt with a lot related to development on the Peabody stretch of Route 1, including a billboard that practically sits in their backyards.

“From the viewpoint of Peabody, it is the perfect place to put something if you don’t want it near your neighborhoods,” said Boudreau. “But it can only be accessed through a Lynnfield neighborhood. I don’t think they are fair to Lynnfield, they are asking our residents to bear a burden that they are trying to spare their residents.”

Green Street resident Danielle Berdahn said the zoning change would impact more than just her road.

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“This will affect other neighborhoods in the area, Munroe, and Fairview and Witham Street,” she said. “We have 31 residents who have signed a petition for this not to go forward with the Peabody City Council. We will also be going to the meeting on Thursday. I also don’t think Lynnfield taxpayers should have the burden for policing this area, which is inevitably what would happen if this goes forward.”

The letter to Peabody officials asks them to find a medical marijuana zone that does not adversely affect residential neighborhoods in their city or any abutting communities. Town Counsel Tom Mullen will also be working with Boudreau to look at any other potential steps Lynnfield could take if the zoning change moves forward.

State Rep. Brad Jones (R-North Reading), also sent a letter to Peabody leaders making Lynnfield’s opposition to the zoning change clear.

The proposed zone runs along four parcels on Route 1 North from Bertucci’s to Don’s Power Equipment and includes a large parcel of undeveloped land behind the businesses, according to Bettencourt.

Peabody Councilor-at-Large Anne Manning-Martin cast the lone council vote against supporting the medical marijuana zone in April.

“I do agree we need to have a zone,” Manning-Martin said in April. “My concern is that we seem to be rushing into it while there is a lot of information out there that seems to be unknown. I think we’re headed in the right direction, but we need more time to know what the laws are and where we are headed.”

The joint City Council/Planning Board hearing is Thursday at 7 p.m. at Peabody City Hall.

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