By Mark E. Vogler
Two companies that were denied special permits to operate retail marijuana dispensaries in Saugus have filed complaints seeking to overturn the decision by the Board of Selectmen last December.
- Uma Flowers, LLC – which received a perfect rating score from the Marijuana Establishment Review Committee (MERC) – claimed in its appeal that Selectman Anthony Cogliano appeared to be biased against Uma and in favor of Bostica, LLC – a company managed by a personal friend.
- Northeastcann, Inc. in its complaint, seeks a judicial review of two decisions made by selectmen in their hearing last Dec. 12. It seeks to overturn the board’s decision to deny the S-2 permit. It also challenges the board’s decision to grant a permit to Sanctuary Medicinals, Inc. – the lone company of seven applicants to receive approval from the board.
Uma’s complaint seeks to refer its application back to the board for reconsideration with orders that Cogliano be disqualified from participating in the public hearing or voting on the application. In its appeal, lawyers for Uma noted that Cogliano admitted to having a personal relationship with Raymond Falite, manager of Bostica and a personal friend for 30 years. The court complaint noted that Cogliano had even filed a conflict of interest disclosure. During the hearing process, Cogliano disparaged Uma and made factually inaccurate statements about the company.
“Mr. Cogliano’s personal interest conflicted with his public duty,” the complaint said.
Cogliano, who has been an outspoken critic of the MERC report and its ranking of Uma Flowers with a perfect score, cast the lone vote against Uma Flowers, which fell one vote short of the four-fifths majority to obtain the permit.
In Northeastcann’s complaint, attorneys for the company were highly critical of Town Manager Scott C. Crabtree and his use of the MERC to usurp the role of selectmen. “There is an apparent political dispute between the town manager and selectmen members,” the complaint said.
“The town manager failed to follow the bylaws related to the Host Community Agreement,” according to the Northeastcann attorney.
“Selectmen improperly relied on the findings of the MERC. Selectmen came to meetings with preconceived decisions,” the complaint said. “Selectmen came to the meeting for the special permit, improperly swayed by the MERC and its flawed process.”
Northeastcann lawyers alleged that Sanctuary Medicinals’ project contained numerous adverse conditions that prevented it from being a marijuana establishment. Sanctuary Medicinals has submitted plans to build its dispensary at 181 Broadway, site of the former 99 Restaurant. Issuance of the S-2 permit enables the company to enter into a host community agreement with Town Manager Scott C. Crabtree.