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Second Anonymous Letter Regarding Proposed Dispensary Lands In Mailboxes

Residents asked to oppose location at Keri Plaza

In November, residents near the Lowell/Tewksbury line found an anonymous letter in their mailboxes asking them to contact Select Board members and town staff to oppose a proposed dispensary at 1 Main St., just barely over the Tewksbury line and readily accessible from I-495.

The mystery sender seems to be at it again. Residents in the area of East St., Dascomb Rd. and Shawsheen St. recently received a very similar letter regarding the proposal by Smyth Cannabis, which operates a dispensary in Lowell near the Tewksbury line, to open a new location in Keri Plaza. That shop would be in the former convenience store adjacent to Luna Rossa.

The letters were postmarked in Boston on Dec. 21 and contain the same points as the previous letter: Overblown predictions of hundreds of cars daily, major traffic impacts and degraded pedestrian safety. It also contains similar errors, including the misspelling of Town Manager Richard Montuori’s name. Having the same party send letters opposing proposals on opposite ends of town suggests that the sender is not an abutter to either location but rather someone with an interest in derailing rival projects.

The Select Board recently made some key changes to the bylaw approved at October Town Meeting:

In addition to a complete application with all items required by the state, the town wants to see:

  • Demonstrated relevant experience in the cannabis or a similar industry; 
  • Evidence that stakeholders in the establishment are free of disqualifying criminal convictions; 
  • Compatibility of the proposed location with the adjacent neighborhood;
  • Consideration of geographical location; 
  • Documentation on expected traffic, parking or other adverse impacts and proposed mitigations; and
  • A security plan that meets or exceeds state standards.

In addition, the Board wants to know when the proposed dispensary would open if a license is granted and be provided with a business plan, financial records and other documentation “demonstrating strong capitalization and likelihood of successful operation over the long term.”

The Board also wants to hear why a proponent believes its proposal should be selected over others and reserved the right to give preference to a qualified local applicant. 

In addition, applicants must get site plan approval from the Planning Board before an application will be considered by the Select Board. 

Once all completed applications are in and the Attorney General approves both the General Bylaw and Zoning Bylaw changes made at October Town Meeting — likely not for a few more weeks — the Board will schedule hearings for all applicants with complete packets.

In response to a query by member Jayne Wellman at that meeting, Montuori advised the Board to not make any decisions the night of a presentation but instead take all proposals under advisement, a sentiment echoed by members.

“The Select Board has the authority to issue all, some or none of the licenses authorized pursuant to the general laws,” said Wellman. “I think the advisory to applicants is important and for the public to continue to give us feedback as we go.”

Pushing residents to provide a negative version of that requested feedback seems to be the goal of this anonymous letter writer.

Lorna is a 25-year resident of Tewksbury who has written for organizations ranging from the DIA to InformationWeek to a free weekly in New London that sent her to interview the pastry chef at Foxwoods.

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