Council moves forward with pot shop moratorium
At the February 16th meeting of the city council, councilors set in motion a process to create a temporary moratorium on marijuana shops in Peabody. Council members unanimously voted to submit language for approval that would provide the basis for a moratorium similar to that of West Bridgewater, Mass. The move comes nearly 4 months after the state legalized the sale, distribution and use of the substance during the nationwide election. While the state overwhelmingly voted to legalize the drug, Peabody said no.
Numerous council members, including the mayor, are publicly opposed to marijuana shops in the city, as well as the legalization of the drug altogether. Mayor Ted Bettencourt was one person in particular who was a staunch opponent of question 4, which legalized marijuana in Massachusetts. The Mayor said at the meeting that he is more open to the idea of medical marijuana, however, and supports a zone on the highway to potentially allow for a dispensary, which he said would be a “great value”. The council most notably banned medical marijuana from the city in 2013.
Councilor Anne Manning-Martin called the law a “doozy” and said that going to the Massachusetts Municipal Meeting recently to talk about the issue only confirmed that. “There are more questions than answers.” Manning-Martin said. She said that many communities are mystified about how to approach the law, which she said has caused “a lot of confusion” regarding implementing the law, policing, and overseeing safeguards.
Even communities who are pushing for a ban, such as Lynnfield, find that doing so could be tremulous. Manning-Martin explained that if they chose to pursue an outright ban and it fails, it could open the flood gates for lawsuits from the industry. As it stands, the language on banning marijuana is rudimentary.
“I support a ban, but we have to get it right.” Manning-Martin said.
Manning-Martin instead suggested that the council follow in the footsteps of West Bridgewater, whose language instituting a temporary moratorium on marijuana shops in their community was just passed by the Massachusetts Attorney General – the final step it needs in order for it to be effective.
The state legislature has just recently formed committees to write language on marijuana shops which will help inform community legislators. According to the council, the proposed moratorium would give the council a year to wait for language from the state legislature that would help support a ban.
The motion to adopt a moratorium similar to the language of West Bridgewater passed 5-0 in the subcommittee and 11-0 in the regular council meeting. Going forward, the council has a few more steps to make before the moratorium can take into effect, including amending its zoning ordinance through the planning board, which could take 6-8 weeks.
By Melanie Higgins
Suspect in Peabody double-murder apprehended in South Carolina
Doughty pleads not guilty at Peabody District Court
The hunt is over. After nearly a week on the lam since his alleged participation in a grisly double-murder in Peabody last month, Wes Doughty is in police custody.
Peabody police had put out a wanted ad for Doughty on its social media hoping it would lead to his arrest. Massachusetts State Police and the Essex County Attorney General’s office also put out bulletins advising the public to steer clear of Doughty, who was believed to be armed and dangerous throughout the ordeal.
Doughty was believed to be partly responsible for the murders of Jennifer O’Connor, 40, and Mark Greenlaw, 37, both residents of the 19 Farm Avenue bungalow where they were killed. Michael Hebb, who is another suspect in the murders, was captured last week and is currently being held without bail.
Before he was caught, it was reported that Doughty was involved in a carjacking at Hailey’s Restaurant in Middleton last Wednesday evening at around 7pm. Doughty allegedly stole the gray 2006 Honda Accord at knifepoint, then restricted the driver using a seatbelt and drove south. The victim, who was identified as 64 year old Middleton grandfather Kenneth Metz, was able to escape when Doughty stopped at a liquor store in Boston. Middleton police said that the victim suffered only minor injuries.
“When I realized he had a pen knife, I just decided to cooperate,” Metz said, according to a FOX25 video.
Metz told reporters that Doughty quickly revealed to him that he was responsible for the murders. He said that the victims were trying to sell heroin to his godfather, so he killed them. He said that he didn’t want his godfather addicted to heroin.
As part of the investigation, police closed down a section of route 128 near the I-95 split on Friday afternoon. The section was reopened around 2pm. Helicopter footage showed police dragging a large white box from the woods off of the highway. Multiple police units were involved in the Friday investigation, including Peabody police, State Police, State Police Marine Units, crime scene personnel, and others.
Doughty was finally apprehended the same day at around 5pm in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Police identified him after arresting him for panhandling outside a McDonalds. The car supposedly involved in the carjacking was found at a nearby restaurant.
Doughty was brought up on charges of “fugitive from justice” in Spartanburg County Detention Facility on Monday, February 27th. He waived rendition and was subsequently transferred to Massachusetts where he was arraigned at Peabody District Court Tuesday morning. He pleaded not guilty and is currently being held without bail.
By Melanie Higgins