Because some of the candidates to open a recreational marijuana shop in Natick are looking to do so near the Wellesley line, Wellesley residents have been sharing their concerns with Natick’s Select Board, and now Wellesley’s Select Board has taken up the matter.
Whereas Wellesley residents voted against legalizing recreational marijuana in 2016, Natick residents did not, and that has paved the way for such businesses to vie for approval in Natick. Over the past year, Natick has given the go-ahead to a medical marijuana dispensary and a testing lab, and is exploring the possibility of delivery and wholesale companies opening as well, the latter of which would be free to deliver their offerings to Wellesley and elsewhere.
As for recreational marijuana shops, Natick is moving through the process under a host community agreement of allowing a company called Cypress Tree to open a shop in the Cloverleaf Mall on Speen Street. A number of steps remain, including Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission approval, before such a shop could open.
Natick’s Select Board now is mulling a handful of runners-up, two of which are within about 500 feet of the Wellesley line on Rte. 9 east at 6 and 42 Worcester St. The candidate (C3) at 42 Worcester St. ranks #1 among Natick’s review committee, while the 6 Worcester St. location at what is now Nine East Wine Emporium, is further down on the list.
It’s this current vetting of candidates, some of whose locations concern Wellesley neighbors, that got the Wellesley Select Board’s attention on Monday night (discussion starts at about 43 minutes in Wellesley Media recording). Residents have expressed concerns—from traffic to bus stop safety to wetlands issues to lack of parking—to Wellesley’s Select Board.
“The town of Wellesley, it’s considered an abutter, and can certainly provide comment. But it has no other procedural jurisdiction in terms of the licensing,” Wellesley Executive Director Meghan Jop said during Monday’s Select Board meeting. Jop said she’s been in communication with Natick’s Community & Economic Development office.
Select Board Member Beth Sullivan Woods said she would like to see the town, in light of residents’ concerns, “I would like us to provide a point of view to the Natick [Select Board]…much like we’ve done for all of our 40Bs and all of our other reviews.”
The discussion included concerns about traffic in the nearby neighborhood at Morses Pond and Jennings Pond, as well as regarding possible parking arrangements either proposed business might negotiate with other operations along Rte. 9.
Select Board Chair Tom Ulfelder raised the issue that impact on neighborhoods didn’t appear to be one of the criteria used by Natick to rate marijuana shop candidates. Natick seems to be focused on the businesses as…businesses, which he said isn’t unreasonable. “It’s almost as if they kind of back into a particular site that’s more of a concern for our residents through that kind of analysis,” he said, advocating for the Board to give voice to Wellesley residents in its communication to Natick.
In the end, the Board agreed to have Town Executive Director Jop draft a letter to be reviewed at a future board meeting. Wellesley residents who want to pass along their thoughts to Jop should send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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