Special zoning needed for dispensary/growing facility
By James David Mitchell
The Revere City Council’s Zoning Subcommittee convened on Wednesday evening to hear the specifics by non-profit Boston Wellness Association (BWA) of Lynnfield seeking a special permit to operate a medical marijuana treatment center within the TED district at 44 Railroad Street.
Attorney Lawrence Simione representing BWA, told the committee that the group would be investing $4.1 million into the blighted area located between Revere Beach Parkway and the Lee Burbank Highway, a triangular configuration that one councillor deemed “a perfect place for this type of business”.
The group is headed by BWA President Matthew Philbin of Nahant and owner of the Rodeway Inn in Revere, in charge of community involvement will be Kathleen Donovan a former supt. of schools for Everett and York, Maine; former Worcester County Sheriff Guy Glodis who will be in charge of security; and Jean Jones, a cancer survivor who sued medical marijuana during her treatment, will manage the facility in administration and human resources.
Simione stated to the board that the proposed Boston Wellness project will consist of two buildings located on 2.3 acres on Railroad Street; Building A consisting of 11,700 sq. ft. and Building B, 22,400 sq. ft.; including a 102,000 sq. ft. lot with 22 proposed parking spaces, according to the drawings.
The buildings, when renovated, would include a 2,500 sq. ft. retail store/dispensary and 2,000 sq. ft. office in one building and in the second, 39,700 sq. ft. growing operation which would be run 24 hours/ seven days a week.
Major concerns voiced by council members were with respect to security which Simione stated the former Worcester Country sheriff would address as BWA’s public safety coordinator.
Glodis stated that his employer was adamant on the safety and security of the neighborhood and the community citing proposed security camera technology with Lan-Tel Communications of Norwood which is used at the State House and the Dept. of Corrections, among its clients. Glodis remarked that Philbin has sought out advice from top law enforcement officials in Florida as well.
“44 Railroad St. also has a natural security perimeter, “said Glodis, “lying between a live commuter bed to the north at the Revere Beach Parkway overpass and a dead commuter bed with the entire area surrounded by a 10 ft. fence with topped with barbed wire.”
Motor vehicle and foot traffic flow will be controlled by only two gateways that will feature 360 degree CCTV surveillance. There will be no first floor windows along the buildings – with the interiors of every room featuring CCTV and Intrusion Detection System (IDS) with access panel pads that will detect such disturbances as breaking-glass and panic buttons. A stand-alone generator in case of power outages will be also available for security cameras with the option for direct line to the Revere Police Station which is also located only a half-mile away from the location.
Every employee at BWA must pass a yearly CORI check, said Donovan. A minimum of eight-hours in training in medical marijuana will be mandatory.
“The positive thing about (medical marijuana) this is that this type of treatment doesn’t affect your liver like other medications,” said Donovan. “I’m sure this will make a difference for many people.”
Also testifying before the committee was Adam and Rick Bierman, a father and son team of marijuana growing consultants from California, who stated that California was the first state to have medical marijuana facilities and BWA will learn from the mistakes already made.
“Over the past six years we’ve learned the impact on the community when you start one of these businesses,” said Adam Bierman. “These are not Bob Marley poster-type retail facilities – it’s not what we do.”
Bierman stated that the medical marijuana grown is scientifically-advanced, designed to enhance the medicinal values for the patient. Pharmaceutical companies, said Bierman, are interested in the effects on Alzheimer’s patients and use the research on medical marijuana for clinical trials.
With respect to the security of the plants themselves from cultivation to dispensing, Bierman stated that from seed to disposition, the plants are identified through bar-coding and entered into a database.
“No one can take it out of the facility and sell it on the street,” said Bierman.
Philbin, president of the association, told the committee that he has surrounded himself with a great tem and is open to any and all issues and questions.
“I have to hand it to the state for getting this right,” said Philbin, “in requiring stringent credentials.”
Philbin stated that he would be open to a possible detail police officer as well as a possible linkage fee through the city’s inspectional services.
The business is expected to hire anywhere from 40 to 60 employees; the majority according to Philbin would allow first preference for Revere citizens. The facility would serve approximately 10,000 patients per week.
The retail store hours would be 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM daily; with the cultivation running 24 hours with 3-4 employees onsite.
A vote will be taken at the regular city council meeting on Monday evening to grant the special permit before receiving the final approval for a dispensary license by the MA. Dept. of Public Health.