Residents Back Pineau’s Downtown Dispensary Ahead of Zoning Vote: ‘A Home Run’

Local business owner Caroline Pineau spoke before the Planning Board on Jan. 9. (WHAV News photograph)

Local business owner Caroline Pineau spoke before the Planning Board on Jan. 9. (WHAV News photograph)

Downtown Haverhill business owner Caroline Pineau won last-minute support for her proposed dispensary Wednesday night, with residents encouraging Planning Board members to recommend Washington Street as a retail marijuana zone.

Although the Board was charged with making a recommendation to the City Council and not voting to support a particular establishment, Wednesday’s meeting made it clear locals back the Yoga Tree owner. On the eve of the Council’s Jan. 15 final zoning vote, Pineau’s effort was praised by one neighbor as a “home run for the community.”

In his vote of confidence, Phil Rice—whose business is next to Pineau’s proposed space at 124 Washington St.—applauded her ingenuity.

“It’s a person who has a business downtown, she’s courageous, smart and she knows what she’s doing,” Rice advocated. “What better person and what better spot? In my mind, you put that together and it’s a home run for the community.”

Pineau did have her detractors, however, in Lloyd Jennings and Brad Brooks, who own the building that houses The Hidden Pig restaurant. Jennings argued the morality of putting a shop downtown and said it would do the business district a disservice.

Issuing her own statement Wednesday, Pineau pleaded for fairness—a notion that did not fall on deaf ears. Planning Board member Karen Buckley reminded voting colleagues that the ordinance was ironed out by several leaders before them with great care.

“Months have gone into evaluating the various locations that are recommended,” she said. “This was not ‘throw a dart at the board,’ or ‘let’s look at where we can make the most money.’ There were some very serious considerations so that the locations were in fact suitable.”

Once the City Council finalizes zoning, applicants wishing to pursue a retail location must negotiate a host community agreement with Mayor James J. Fiorentini and apply for a special permit in order to open.

Pineau is one of three to submit host agreement paperwork, and is the only one to file for a space downtown. Full Harvest Moonz hopes to open at 101 Plaistow Road, while CNA Stores is pursuing a location at 558 River St.