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Proposed East Lynn pot shop receives preliminary approval

LYNN — More obstacles were presented for an Oregon-based company on Tuesday night, which is seeking to operate a recreational marijuana store on Lewis Street. 

The City Council’s Recreational Cannabis Site Plan Review Committee gave the green light to Diem Cannabis, which is proposing a 1,200-square foot East Lynn retail store at 229 Lewis St., also known as 1 Chestnut. 

With the approval, Diem Cannabis can now seek its special permit from the City Council, which voted on Tuesday night to set down a public hearing. 

But the approval came with conditions. 

The Lewis Street building is currently mixed-use, but to comply with the city’s zone ordinance that states a marijuana establishment cannot be located inside a residential building, the company plans to change that use and occupy all three floors of the building. That would require all of the current residential tenants to move out. 

It’s not that simple, though, according to Michael Donovan, the city’s Inspectional Services Department chief. 

Changing the use on the residential second and third floors would require a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals. A change of use from residential to office on those floors would also require parking. The building currently lacks off-street parking, which is required for a retail establishment, Donovan said. 

“I would rather see the second floor used as storage, rather than office space, because more parking spots would be required for the office,” said City Council President Darren Cyr, the ward councilor for the area where the shop is proposed. 

The site plan review committee recommended the proposal to the City Council with the condition that the company obtain a permit, or variance, from the ZBA within six months. 

The additional hurdles presented by the committee come a week after a neighborhood meeting was held for the proposed pot shop, where numerous residents raised concerns about a lack of parking. 

Some felt it would exacerbate crime in the area. City Councilor Richard Colucci, who represents Ward 4, which borders the proposed site, opposes the facility because all of his constituents are against it. 

Jonathan Capano, an attorney with Smith, Costello & Crawford, the Boston-based firm representing Diem Cannabis, said his client has been actively trying to secure parking and accommodate the neighborhood. 

“I think (the committee’s approval) is rational,” said John DiNovella, the Massachusetts operations manager of Diem. “I think that the concerns that have been put forth are logical and we’re going to do whatever we have to do to comply with the Zoning Board of Appeals, the City Council and the inspectional services division. We just want to do what’s best for the community and we trust their judgment.” 

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