Haverhill Council Considers Transfer from Disputed ‘Impact Fee’ Account to Pay for Student Surveys

Haverhill city councilors have an opportunity tonight to approve moving money to pay for an analysis of surveys of young people’s risk behaviors. Councilors consider two requests from Mayor James J. Fiorentini to transfer about $171,000 from the city’s “Cannabis Local Impact Fees Escrow” account as well as nearly $42,000 from the “Youth Activities/Mental Health Stabilization Fund.” The proposals come even as there is a lawsuit and debate over whether adult-use cannabis retailers have presented any adverse impacts. Concurrent with the money shuffle, the mayor also named a nine-member “Youth Activities and Mental Health Program Advisory Committee.”

The mayor said the only issue on his mind is completing the analysis of existing surveys so that the city may qualify for a Drug Free America grant. “Mostly what we’re trying to do is, first of all, figure out what the impact is of drugs. Secondly, to gear ourselves up to put in for the grant again,” he said.

Council Calls for Study of Haverhill Youth Surveys; Asks Why Cannabis Shops Aren’t Paying as Agreed

Haverhill city councilors agreed Tuesday the city should analyze eight years of Haverhill youth risk surveys, but some wondered why the city’s cannabis retailers aren’t footing the bill after most of them agreed to do so. The data is to be analyzed after the City Council voted to take $41,000 from the city’s Youth Services and Mental Health account. Noting the analysis will be the basis for implementing a strategy to reduce substance abuse by Haverhill’s youth, Councilor John A. Michitson introduced school physician Dr. John L. Maddox who explained how that will work. “It is best practice to survey your youth on a regular basis, either every year or every other year. We’re going to go back to 2013 because we have four surveys and we really never analyzed any of them.

Former U.S. Rep. Frank Among Those Speaking at Cannabis Workshop Thursday in Haverhill

Former U.S. Congressman Barney Frank is among those scheduled to speak at a cannabis education and networking conference Thursday night in downtown Haverhill. The GrowWell Conference, focusing in part on learning to properly and safely grow cannabis, is organized by Haverhill residents Andrew Mutty of Beantown Greentown and Jimmy Carbone of Craft Haverhill. Four panel discussions cover “Health and Wellness,” “Dispensary Talk,” “Regulatory Talk” and “Grow Workshop.”

The Health and Wellness segment features Tom Rand, Laura Beohner, Dr. Marion McNabb and Dr. Uma Dhanabalan, while the Dispensary Panel brings perspectives from Rob Difazio, CNA Stores; Jackie Brayman, Full Harvest Moonz; Caroline Pineau, Stem Haverhill; and Meaka Brown, Mello. Former U.S. Rep. Frank leads a Regulatory Panel with attorney Blake Mensing and Haverhill architect Matt Juros. The Grow Workshop will be led by Mutty, introduced by Kathy Fitts; with Ed DeSousa, Jim Wolterding and Mark Leone, also known as “Dr. Dank.”

Exhibitors include hydroponic supply stores Mass Hydroponics and Green Harvest Hydroponics.

While Developer Withdraws Cannabis Farm Plan, Haverhill Council Votes to Keep It Away

The Haverhill City Council last night put the kibosh on a request to allow a particular cannabis cultivation operation in the Ward Hill Business Park. Andre Colon, CEO of True House Cannabis of Lawrence, withdrew the petition through a lawyer before the hearing, but councilors acted to ensure the plan could not be revived later. Councilor William J. Macek, noting recommendations against rezoning, sought to limit the chance of the proposal coming back. “Based upon the recommendations of the Planning Board, which are all negative on this request, that it be added to be a withdrawn with prejudice,” he said. Withdrawn with prejudice effectively means the petition, as presented, is dismissed permanently.

Haverhill City Council to Hear Request Tonight to Allow Cannabis Cultivation in Ward Hill

Haverhill City Councilors are being asked tonight to allow a cannabis cultivation operation to open up shop in Ward Hill. Andre Colon, CEO of True House Cannabis, or THC, from Lawrence, is asking city zoning be changed to allow a building at 25 Bond St. in the Ward Hill Business Park to grow cannabis for distribution only to licensed marijuana establishments. The plan is opposed by Haverhill Economic Development and Planning Director William Pillsbury Jr. because it would, in his words, violate a “fundamental principal of zoning” to “not create isolated locations of an otherwise prohibited use” and would undermine the “extensive process to establish zones” for cannabis operations. The Haverhill Planning Board also voted Sept.

Renamed ‘Mello,’ Haverhill’s Fourth Cannabis Shop Receives Final State License

Haverhill’s fourth adult-use cannabis retailer opens soon after being awarded its final license last week by the state Cannabis Control Commission. Mellow Fellows, to be known publicly as “Mello,” received its retail license last Thursday. Commission staff reported the last of four retailers permitted so far in Haverhill completed construction at 330 Amesbury Road, Haverhill and was inspected Sept. 21. Although proposed by Charles Emery, Timothy Riley and E. Phillip Brown, the store is now 91% owned by Wellesley-based Mass Invest Group with Arthur Becker and Alan J. Kanders listed as managers of the group.

Haverhill Cannabis Retailer Cites Second Mass. Community to Forgo Impact Fees as Example

The decision by a second Massachusetts community not to charge an impact fee to a cannabis retailer is evidence cited by a Haverhill shop there are no impacts from hosting such businesses. Caroline Pineau, owner and CEO of Stem, said the recent experience by the Town of Lee and, earlier by the City of Northampton, shows recreational cannabis stores have, thus far, posed no additional or unusual expenses to communities that host them. “The $1.3 million cost report produced by Haverhill looked ridiculous when it came out and it looks even more ridiculous now with the Town of Lee and Northampton both admitting there have been no costs,” she told WHAV. According to The Berkshire Eagle, the Lee Select Board decided last Tuesday not to assesses the town’s only pot shop because the business did not add to the community’s costs during the year that ended in July. The Board, however, reportedly reserved the right to assess an impact fee in the future should the situation change.

Appeals Court Judges Rule in Favor of the City of Haverhill and Cannabis Retailer Stem in Zoning Dispute

A state Appeals Court ruled yesterday in favor of the City of Haverhill and Stem, a downtown cannabis retailer, over the legality of zoning where the shop is located. The appeal of last year’s Land Court decision was requested by J. Bradford Brooks and Lloyd Jennings, as trustees of L&B Realty Trust, and Stavros Dimakis, as trustee of Evthokia Realty Trust. They contested Land Court Judge Robert E. Foster’s decision last year that Licensed Marijuana Establishments are consistent with the city’s Licensed Marijuana Establishments Overlay Zone, Waterfront District and Downtown Smart Growth Overlay District. The opponents argued city rules call for a 500-foot buffer zone between any marijuana establishment and schools, childcare facilities, parks, churches, libraries, playgrounds and youth centers. Appeals Court Justices Sookyoung Shin, Joseph M. Ditkoff and Maureen E. Walsh ruled Haverhill’s creation of overlay zones following voters’ approval of recreational cannabis did not result, as alleged, in “spot zoning.” They also acknowledged federal and state schoo1 zone statutes relating to “controlled substances,” but noted there is no outright ban as evidenced by use of such drugs by medical offices near schools.