Haverhill City Councilors William J. Macek, Mary Ellen Daly-O’Brien and Michael S. McGonagle review the recommended location of a zone for medical marijuana facilities. (WHAV photo.)
The Haverhill City Council is expected to conclude its decision making process tonight on where medical marijuana businesses may be allowed. If an area is approved, a temporary moratorium will be lifted.
Last month, the council’s Administration and Finance Committee recommended land off route 97 be considered as the city’s only approved zone for medical marijuana facilities. The Haverhill Planning Board last week largely concurred with councilors, making slight adjustments to a draft map.
Despite the recommendations, the full council could still consider other areas such as Ward Hill, Hale Street, Hilldale Avenue and upper Main Street. Any proposed ordinance would prohibit marijuana businesses from areas “within 1,500 feet of a residential dwelling or a school/educational building.”
Selection of an “overlay” zone over the largely manufacturing area on Computer and Research Drives, but excluding land facing route 97, could slow plans by Healthy Pharms. That company, once represented by lobbyist James P. Jajuga, was provisionally licensed to locate a dispensary at 114 Hale St. City Solicitor William D. Cox Jr. said Healthy Pharms will still have to lease or purchase property in an approved zone and obtain permits.
Medical marijuana advocates have decried the lengthy amount of time it has taken to site voter-approved facilities.
Jajuga, who is also a Methuen city councilor and former president of the Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce, paid a $2,500 fine for late disclosure of his work to bring Healthy Pharms to Haverhill. State law requires “a penalty for any statement which is filed by an executive or legislative agent later than the prescribed date.”
At last month’s subcommittee meeting, Councilor William J. Macek reminded audience members medical marijuana is legal. “It’s not a red-headed stepchild. It’s a legitimate operation in the state.” Besides Macek, committee members include Councilors Colin F. LePage, chairman; Mary Ellen Daly-O’Brien; and Michael S. McGonagle.
Council President John A. Michitson, who is not a member of the Administration and Finance Committee, hinted he may not support the recommendation. He suggested the city’s planning department might worry about attracting business to the area if a marijuana facility is there.