LYNN — East Lynn could see its first pot shop, with a company proposing to open a boutique-style retail store on Western Avenue.
Heather Hannon, owner of Essex Apothecary, wants to open up a shop at 233 Western Ave. She described the boutique concept as Anthropologie meets a cannabis store, which would be “shabby-chic” and not computerized, but rather focused on creating a one-on-one experience with its customers. The plan is to have a gallery with work from local artists inside the building.
Hannon had initially proposed opening a marijuana store on nearby Chestnut Street, but ditched those plans after Ward 1 Councilor Wayne Lozzi, who represents the area, came out in opposition to the site, saying the area was not the right fit for that type of business.
“We took some great feedback from that last meeting and really heard some concerns from the neighborhood, tried our best to make it work on that site and … realized that this was just a much better property for it, much better suited for the use,” said James McMahon, an attorney for Essex Apothecary, at a neighborhood meeting held for the proposed shop on Monday night.
One of the biggest concerns with the Chestnut Street location was a lack of parking, McMahon said. A presentation from the company showed there would be 22 parking spaces on the Western Avenue site, more than any other pot shop that has been approved to operate in the city so far.
“(If approved), this, in my opinion, would be the most successful one in the city,” said Ward 2 Councilor Rick Starbard, chairman of the City Council’s Recreational Cannabis Site Plan Review Committee, which will vote on the proposal on July 16.
Starbard cited the abundance of parking and the lack of competition the store would have, because it would be the only one approved in East Lynn. All six pot shops that have been approved to open in the city have been for West Lynn locations. The city has two licenses remaining.
Despite his opposition to the Chestnut Street location and to the legalization of recreational marijuana, Lozzi appeared to be supportive of the new site. He said he didn’t hear any opposition from residents voiced on Monday, which was a contrast to the abundance of opposition he heard during a neighborhood meeting held for the initial proposed location.
“I think, if there is going to be an apothecary, they’re a very well-run operation and I think that the neighborhood should be pleased with the improvements to the property and the negligible impacts on the neighborhood,” Lozzi said.
“I think it could be a win-win here, the location, the results that we’ll see with the revenues coming on for the city and for those who are not in favor of it overall with this type of business, it’s coming whether we like it or not.”
If approved, before the company could operate, the building needs significant improvements, as it’s dilapidated, according to Paul Durand, the company’s architect. McMahon said the total cost to rehab the building has not been determined, but it needs a “top to bottom overhaul” with interior and exterior upgrades.
If the company’s proposal is approved by the Recreational Cannabis Site Plan Review Committee, the City Council would likely vote on whether to issue a special permit to Essex Apothecary in August.