E.P. Zoning Board grants delay for medicinal marijuana distillery proposal

Rumford property owner asks for continuance of application

By Mike Rego
Posted 3/4/21

EAST PROVIDENCE — The property owner where a medicinal marijuana distillery would be placed in what is a commercial district, though one the closely abuts a Rumford neighborhood, asked for and …

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E.P. Zoning Board grants delay for medicinal marijuana distillery proposal

Rumford property owner asks for continuance of application

Posted

EAST PROVIDENCE — The property owner where a medicinal marijuana distillery would be placed in what is a commercial district, though one the closely abuts a Rumford neighborhood, asked for and received a continuance of its petition before the Zoning Board at a meeting of the body Wednesday night, March 3.

Circle Holdings LLC was scheduled on the docket seeking a waiver for a site plan and a use variance from the board in an attempt to potentially house a “Medical Marijuana Compassion Center” on the property located at 15 Circle St. The two-story structure is familiar to some long-time residents of the area as the former East Providence Credit Union branch.

Assistant City Solicitor Dylan Conley, recollecting a conversation with counsel for the petitioner earlier in the day, told the board the owner was seeking the delay in judgement due to a variety of factors. Specifically, the Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation would not be qualifying applicants for the licenses available to operate six new medical marijuana compassion centers around the state until at least May of this year.

Also, RIDBR-Office of Cannabis Regulation Chief Matthew Santacroce issued a statement in late February to applicants, noting the mid-May license approval timeline and reminding them of updates made to disclosure and zoning requirements. Those mandates could impact the process here in city.

David Johnston, the attorney representing ownership, said Mr. Conley’s description of events was accurate. In addition, he told the board he only recently has been made aware of concerns expressed by Circle Street neighborhood residents and most of those were reservations about potential increases in traffic.

For those not acquainted with the location, Circle Street derives its name from basically being a half circle, connecting Ferris Avenue to Newport Avenue. It splits the C-2 district and a residential zone composed of Martha Road, Nimitz Road, Ridgewood Drive and Bellevue Boulevard. The Newport Avenue portion of the C-2 location has also long been home to pharmacies like Douglas Drug, then Rite-Aid and now Walgreens. The parcel next to the 15 Circle Street building was once home to the Rumford Barber Shop, it recently redeveloped into an apartment complex.

Mr. Johnston, as well, said he only just heard of other concerns of residents, though calling them “second-hand” in nature, among those being the potential impact of operating a business of this nature in an area where there is pre-school. The Little Scholars Preschool is located at 355 Ferris Ave., a couple of hundred yards away from the 15 Circle St. building.

Mr. Johnston expressed a desire to engage residents before pursuing the matter formally. He said he would likely hold community meetings with the neighborhood, including those abutters closest to the building. Mr. Johnston provided his contact information (phone: 401-737-3050 and email: djohnston@johnstonlawri.com), encouraging residents to engage him with any questions or comments they may have about the proposal.

The board agreed to the continuance at a date certain as requested by City Zoning Officer Ed Pimentel. The matter will now be placed on the agenda for the body’s June 2 meeting. The petitioner must submit an updated application to Mr. Pimentel by the first week of May for review by his office and other pertinent city departments and must also pay for the re-notification process of abutters within 200 feet of the proposed facility as well as for advertising to the general public.

The Zoning Board took action on one other application at its March 3 meeting, approving a use variance for the installation of roof-top solar panels on a building located at 109 King Philip Road.

The property owner, Shah Realty, LLC, operators of the business there, Accu-Care Supply, Inc., and Ecogy Energy RI LLC, the developer, approached the board with the request.

Julia Magliozzo, Director of Operations at Ecogy Energy RI, told the board the mounted panels would sit no taller than 16 inches over the existing roof line. What she called a “rudimentary” 250 kilowatt system would not augment the general character of the property. And that the project had already received approval by National Grid through the state’s Renewable Energy Growth Program. The electricity generated is not to operate the building proper, but will be sold to the power grid at large also as part of the Renewable Energy Growth Program.

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Mike Rego

Mike Rego has worked at East Bay Newspapers since 2001, helping the company launch The Westport Shorelines. He soon after became a Sports Editor, spending the next 10-plus years in that role before taking over as editor of The East Providence Post in February of 2012. To contact Mike about The Post or to submit information, suggest story ideas or photo opportunities, etc. in East Providence, email mrego@eastbaymediagroup.com.