Pot shop awaiting state OK

PAUL BILODEAU/Staff photoFresh Fields, an affiliate of the Energy North-Gloucester corporation that runs the Mobil station on Gloucester's Essex Avenue under CEO Jeff Black, has received the city's OK to build a recreational pot retail shop at 65-73 Essex Ave. but still needs state approval.

With limited locations for recreational marijuana dispensaries in the city, partners planning to open a pot shop are taking things to the next level. 

The Zoning Board of Appeals approved by unanimous 5-0 votes two variance and two special permit requests for the development of a two-story building at 65-73 Essex Ave. that is scheduled to include recreational pot retail shop Fresh Fields LLC on the second floor. 

Fresh Fields has signed a host community agreement with the city of Gloucester and, as of Friday, is waiting to hear back from the state in regards to a provisional license, said Rick Alpern, a partner of Fresh Fields LLC. 

The company is also looking to put up brick-and-mortar locations in Beverly and Lowell. 

Harley Racer, the attorney representing applicants 65-73 Essex Ave. LLC, Haffner's Energy North Group and Fresh Fields LLC, explained Thursday night that the building project plans to demolish the gas station and auto repair center now on the site, combine the lots and build upward. 

"The first floor will be a continued use of the convenience store gas station and the second floor will be a new indent use of a marijuana retail dispensary," Racer stated. 

The petition approved on Thursday gave 65-73 Essex Avenue LLC a special permit to alter and, or expand a non-conforming structure, a special permit to lessen the number of parking spaces, a variance for rear yard, and a variance on the definition of "lot" to allow demolition of existing structures to allow construction of a new two story-building.  

Staff writer Taylor Ann Bradford can be reached at 978-675-2705 or tbradford@gloucestertimes.com.

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