Thursday, December 14, 2017
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Medical marijuana still a hot topic for City Council

The City Council continued to tread lightly on the matter regarding medical marijuana companies who will be applying to set up shop in Peabody. “We don’t want to be in court, we want to protect ourselves,” said President Joel Saslaw during the council’s Sept. 14 meeting.

He also said he expects all approved companies to be active and positive contributors to the city. “These entities are going to put their best foot forward,” he said.

But the real issue has been about determining when a letter of non-opposition would be warranted. “That’s the elephant in the room,” said Saslaw. “There is no guide.”

Therefore, he suggested a list of criteria for the council to use when it comes time to start making those kinds of decisions. Saslaw recommended inquiring about a company’s board of directors, its level of security and its years of industry experience and location. “Those are the things that I thought about,” he said.

Saslaw also said the council would review a host agreement before sending it to Mayor Edward Bettencourt for his signature.

Councillor-at-Large David Gravel suggested implementing additional zoning restrictions for medical marijuana companies. “We should go back into the Zoning Ordinance, open it up and put in the restrictions,” he said.

In other news, the council voted unanimously to grant a live and non-live entertainment license to Metro Bowl.

Resident Jose Pinto of Chestnut Street said he and his neighbors were initially apprehensive about car alarms going off and other loud noises coming from the establishment late at night. “We’re not here to oppose anything, we’re just here to voice some concerns,” he said. Pinto said he and other residents recently had the opportunity to share their concerns with Metro Bowl owner Robert Leo, Ward 4 Councillor Edward Charest and Ward 2 Councillor Peter McGinn.

Speaking about parking, McGinn said 48 new spaces have been added and employees have been instructed to park on Chestnut Street Extension. He said the additional spaces will prevent patrons from having to park on Chestnut Street, Coolidge Road and Franklin Street. In addition, a manager will walk through the parking lot every night to ensure that patrons do not become disruptive. McGinn also said there will be a regular police presence.

Councillor-at-Large Anne Manning-Martin questioned the need for the police. “I’ve never seen any police reports; I’ve never heard of any complaints down there,” she said.

Gravel said he has fond memories of Metro Bowl going back many years. “I grew up in Ward 2 and was a regular patron of Metro Bowl; as kids that’s where we went every Saturday,” he said, adding that he fully backed the request for an entertainment license – “I’m 100 percent in support.”

The council voted unanimously to ask Bettencourt about developing an Economic Vitality Fund, which would be subsidized by the city’s Unrestricted Reserve.

By Christopher Roberson

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