Pepperell residents petition for special meeting on marijuana bylaw

Proposed zoning bylaw amendment would allow two recreational marijuana businesses in town

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PEPPERELL – Local residents are looking for an audience with town officials to discuss a proposed zoning amendment related to marijuana businesses.

Town Administrator Andrew MacLean confirmed that local resident Ann-Marie Finn, co-owner of The Lazy Bubble restaurant on Main Street, submitted a citizen’s petition to Town Hall requesting for a Special Town Meeting. The town originally announced the meeting would take place on Feb. 20, but MacLean said on Monday that it was canceled due to the petition not having enough properly verified signatures.

The meeting will be exclusively meant for discussing a proposed zoning bylaw amendment regarding adult-use recreational marijuana businesses. If approved, the bylaw would allow two retail marijuana businesses instead of just one.

Uma Flowers LLC and New England Craft Cultivators are both looking to open marijuana businesses in town, the former pitching its store in Dec. 2019 and the latter pitching its store in Feb. 2020.

Planning Board Advisor Lisa Davis said on Monday that Uma Flowers received a special permit from the Planning Board on Dec. 21, 2020. NECC granted the board an extension until May 17 to make a decision on granting the special permit. Davis noted that without the bylaw amendment, the board can’t grant the permit to NECC to build its retail establishment.

Finn, who is pushing the bylaw, would end up being a business neighbor to NECC. Her restaurant, which opened in November 2019, is located in the formerPaugus Plaza on Main Street, where NECC hopes to open.

The company already received its provisional licenses from the Cannabis Control Commission in August 2020 and looks to partner with the Pepperell Garden Club to add native vegetation and perform more cosmetic improvements to the building.

That promised facelift is a big part of why Finn came up with the petition in the first place. Another reason is the potential economic boom from the business to the town.

“The guys at NECC have such passion and integrity for the industry,” she said. “I was part of the movement to legalize cannabis in Massachusetts back in 1980s and NECC has so much pride for the industry, like we do for food. That’s what I want for the town. The Paugus Plaza has been an eyesore for a long time and NECC is all about putting money into the town. That’s huge for me.”

MacLean said he anticipates the board rescheduling the meeting for sometime in March.