Pot and Traffic on Council’s Agenda

December 17, 2018 GMT

LOWELL -- Marijuana shops and potential traffic issues will be a theme at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

Before the meeting, the Lowell City Council Cannabis Control Subcommittee will ask for an update on recreational marijuana retail locations and traffic plans. Many are concerned about traffic in the wake of issues with Leicester’s marijuana shop opening in November.

City Councilor Rodney Elliott, chair of the subcommittee, said the board has not been given enough information on what’s taking place in the city.

“The City Council should be fully engaged with this process,” Elliott said. “We need to ensure these locations won’t affect neighborhoods and business districts.”

Recently, Mayor Bill Samaras requested the city manager instruct the proper departments to prepare traffic mitigation plans for the recreational marijuana stores. Patriot Care Corp., located on Industrial Avenue East, anticipates that may open as soon as January.

As part of its Planning Board process with the city, Patriot Care submitted a transportation demand management plan, which was reviewed and accepted by the Planning Board.

“As their opening has gotten closer, Patriot Care has been working with the Lowell Police Department regarding a potential spike in traffic after opening,” Eric Slagle, the city’s director of development services, wrote in a motion response for Tuesday’s meeting. “That working relationship will continue up to and following the opening.”

The city will also have to address future openings of other retail cannabis locations. The city manager is evaluating various proposals, and has recently asked for additional information about traffic demand and mitigation plans for each proposed business.

“From a staff perspective, we believe that the extreme traffic issues that have happened in the first two retail cannabis locations are primarily the result of the small number of locations, coupled with the novelty of the retail cannabis business,” Slagle wrote.

The city does not anticipate the extraordinary traffic issues seen at the state’s first two locations.

“Nonetheless, we will be keeping a close eye on the traffic situations at various retail cannabis locations throughout the state and will reserve the right to request heightened traffic management plans from locations if the city feels such requirements are necessary,” Slagle added.

Follow Rick Sobey on Twitter @rsobeyLSun.