LYNN — Neighbors aren’t too pleased with an Oregon-based company’s plans to operate a recreational marijuana store on Lewis Street.
Representatives from Diem Cannabis outlined their proposal before a packed community room at the Lynn Police Station on Monday evening. Residents were most concerned about parking, which they said was already lacking in the area, and would be further exacerbated by the potential shop.
“It’s a very busy intersection, so we have concerns about traffic,” said Rita Grainge, who lives nearby on Breed Street. “To the best of our knowledge, there is no parking associated with that building other than on the street, so that is a very major concern. It’s the opinion of the neighborhood that this is not the appropriate location of one of these businesses.”
Diem estimates there will be 40 on-street parking spaces available for customers and plans to use signage to ensure patrons don’t park in residential spaces nearby. The company also plans to operate the store on an appointment-only basis to mitigate parking and traffic concerns.
John DiNovella, the Massachusetts operations manager of Diem, said the 1,200 square-foot East Lynn retail store would operate on the northerly side of the 229 Lewis St. building, also known as 1 Chestnut. The structure is currently mixed-use, but if the proposal is approved by the City Council, the use would change and the business would occupy all three floors.
The city has two of its eight recreational marijuana licenses available. All six pot shops have been approved to open in West Lynn, but if another proposed East Lynn store is approved by the City Council next month, Diem would be competing for the last available license.
DiNovella said what sets them apart is the experience they would bring. Diem operates a cannabis dispensary and processing facility in Salem, Ore., and a delivery service in Portland, Ore. The company is seeking to open marijuana retail stores in Worcester and Allston.
“We’re excited about the progress that has been made with the city,” said DiNovella. “We feel it is up and coming. If they’re going to license eight dispensaries, we feel we are the most responsible group to carry that burden.”
City Council President Darren Cyr, who represents Ward 3 where the shop would be located, said he is in favor of the proposal, only for the financial benefits it would bring to the city. Recreational marijuana stores approved to operate enter into a host agreement, which requires them to provide 6 percent of their gross annual profits to the city.
“I voted against this, but 60 percent of the people voted for it, so I have to figure out a way to regulate it, regardless of my personal feelings,” Cyr said. “If someone is going to come in and do it, we want them to be as reputable as they can be and this company is reputable.”
But not everyone was convinced.
City Councilor Richard Colucci, who represents Ward 4, which borders the store’s potential location, said he is against the proposal.
“All of my constituents are against it,” Colucci said. “There was no parking, so I have to do what my constituents want.”
Julia Greene, a Parker Avenue resident, felt the store would exacerbate crime in the area.
She also took issue with Diem’s choice of community, or charitable contribution. Rather than providing $10,000 annually to the nearby Goldfish Pond Association, which was heavily represented on Monday night, she said the funding would be better served by going toward more community policing in the area.
“We have a drug problem already. We don’t need additional drug problems,” Greene said. “There are incidences every single day, every 10 feet in that neighborhood. Right now, we are suffering from all types of illegal activity going on in our neighborhood and now we’re going to add one more thing to that.”
Paul Coombs, president of the Goldfish Pond Association, said the organization welcomes any donations, and didn’t think there would be a problem with the store’s close proximity to the park.
The next step is for Diem to appear before the City Council’s Recreational Cannabis Site Plan Review Committee. The company can then seek its special permit from the City Council.