Local Government and Politics, News

Broad Street building won’t go to pot in Lynn

LYNN — Opposition from several city officials, including Mayor Thomas M. McGee, has prompted Tree Market LLC to reconsider its plans to open a recreational marijuana shop at the former Fastenal building on Broad Street. 

City officials who oppose the location have cited a desire for a “better” use of the site, such as a high-rise residential development. 

Tree Market has not formally withdrawn its permit application for 212 Broad St., but is no longer moving forward with the location and is seeking other sites for the potential business. 

“Tree Market is fully committed to the City of Lynn and we look forward to a long partnership,” said Matthew McKenna, a company spokesman. “We are doing our due diligence and exploring all options to ensure we have a location that benefits all parties.” 

The company has already received approval from the City Council to sell recreational marijuana at 3 Mount Vernon St., but because of permitting issues with that site, was seeking a change in address for their business. However, a site change would require Tree Market to acquire a new special permit from the council. 

That requirement has been anything but a cakewalk for the company. 

Last month, the City Council’s Recreational Cannabis Site Plan Review Committee voted, 2-2, on the company’s proposed address change. The split vote from the subcommittee meant there was not a favorable recommendation to the full City Council. 

The council was slated to discuss the new permit application at their meeting Tuesday night, but at Tree Market’s request, it was pulled from their agenda. 

“I guess they want to be amenable to what everybody in the city wants, including the mayor, who wasn’t thrilled with the Broad Street location,” said Ward 2 Councilor Rick Starbard, chairman of the Recreational Cannabis Site Plan Review Committee. “They’ve just been looking to see if there’s anything that might be better for them. They still hold the Mount Vernon site. If need be, they can just open there.” 

Starbard and Ward 5 Councilor Dianna Chakoutis both voted in favor of the Broad Street location last month. Starbard said the property owner has called numerous times to inquire about the potential for a marijuana dispensary at the building, which is currently vacant. 

But others, including McGee, who declined comment for this story, and James Cowdell, Economic Development & Industrial Corporation of Lynn (EDIC/Lynn) executive director, believe a larger development is a more appropriate use of the site. 

“There is a lot of interest in that huge lot with major development occurring all around it,” said Cowdell, who, along with Assistant City Solicitor James Lamanna, voted against the location last month. “We expect major development to occur.” 

Cowdell said he favors a mixed-use redevelopment of the site, which would include residential units with commercial or retail space on the first floor. He said zoning allows for a 10-story building and recent offers have been for a “major development.” 

Although Starbard noted Tree Market still holds a special permit for their initial site, Peter D’Agostino, a company representative, said last month they were forced to find a new location because the MBTA had notified the city that there may be some permitting issues under the bridge on Mount Vernon Street.

According to a letter MassDOT sent to both the property owner and the city last July, the MBTA “does not support construction or build-outs for retail, or other purposes under the Lynn Station Viaduct.” The letter states that construction would impede the MBTA’s ability to access and maintain the bridge.

City Solicitor George Markopoulos said there have been issues with that site and structure for “quite some time,” which predates the current retail marijuana applicant. Until those issues are resolved, he said the city will not grant a building permit for the property, which Tree Market would need for store construction. 

The Recreational Cannabis Site Plan Review Committee is scheduled to discuss another retail marijuana applicant Tuesday night, Green Butterfly LLC, which has proposed a store at 121-125 Essex St.

However, since all eight recreational marijuana licenses have already been issued by the City Council, Starbard said the company cannot be granted a special permit. 

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