Marijuana Shop Foes Lose 11th Hour Bid to Halt Pineau’s Special Permit Hearing

Caroline Pineau of Stem, 124 Washington St., Haverhill. (Jay Saulnier file photograph for WHAV News)

An emergency motion filed by attorneys for Stavros Dimakis, Lloyd Jennings and J. Bradford Brooks late Monday afternoon in Boston Land Court seeking to delay Caroline Pineau’s special permit hearing before Haverhill’s City Council was denied by Judge Robert B. Foster, WHAV has confirmed.

In denying the trio’s motion, Foster said he would consider an appeal of the granting—or denial—of Pineau’s special permit. The plaintiffs also amended their original complaint Monday and dropped federal complaints made, sending the case back to land court.

Click image for Haverhill City Council agenda.

Following Foster’s decision, Pineau will be heard by councilors tonight at 7 p.m., six months after she inked a host community agreement with Mayor James J. Fiorentini to sell retail marijuana at 124 Washington St. at a store called Stem.

Controversy has followed Pineau in recent weeks, with City Council hopeful Dimakis, contractor Jennings and Realtor Brooks first filing suit against her on May 30, arguing that her shop would doom the downtown district should it open.

The plaintiffs said Stem would “arbitrarily and unreasonably change the existing character of the neighborhood by increasing congestion in the streets…endangering children…and frequent patrons at Mark’s Deli.” The men also believe Stem will “destroy” both the desirability and property value of downtown property values, including the building that houses the Hidden Pig restaurant.

The decks on Washington Street owned by Lloyd Jennings and Brad Brooks (left) and Caroline Pineau (right). (WHAV News photograph)

Brooks and Jennings own 128-130 Washington St., while Dimakis leases property from Evthokia Realty Trust at 2 Railroad Square and owns Mark’s Deli.

Pineau filed her own standalone suit that leveled claims of extortion and harassment on the part of Jennings and Brooks. Court documents and police reports obtained by WHAV back Pineau’s claims that the behavior was born out of a disagreement over the deck of the building behind her shop. Pineau owns the deck at 124 Washington St., while Jennings and Brooks own the deck at 128 Washington St. There is an estimated foot separating the two decks.

According to a police report filed by Pineau April 5, Jennings and Brooks claim Pineau owes them $30,000 for the deck after purchasing the building from previous owners Sons of Italy in October 2018. Pineau declined to pay $30,000 and countered with a lower offer, which Jennings and Brooks did not accept. She said additional attempts to reach an agreement failed, telling police verbal demands from the pair going as high as $75,000.

In an effort to put her through “the same hell” Jennings and Brooks went through with the City of Haverhill to build the deck, Jennings reportedly “threatened to burn down the deck” at Pineau’s proposed shop, her attorney Thomas MacMillan alleged in court.

Backed by cannabis advocates from across the state in recent weeks amid her legal strife, Pineau has won praise from local leaders as she heads into Tuesday’s hearing. Among them is Planning Board member Karen Buckley, who was among the first to back the downtown district as appropriately zoned.

“Months have gone into evaluating the various locations that are recommended,” Buckley 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.”

An economic empowerment applicant with priority status from the Cannabis Control Commission, Pineau is one of five business owners looking to open marijuana shops in the City of Haverhill. CNA Stores is pursuing a location at 558 River St., and Mellow Fellows and Haverwell Market are both considering doing business on Amesbury Road.

Earlier this month, the Council granted Weymouth’s Janet Kurpris a special permit to move ahead with her Full Harvest Moonz shop set to open at 95 Plaistow Road.

97.9 WHAV FM plans to broadcast tonight’s special permit hearing live starting at 7 p.m.

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