Concerns over planned cannabis store in Florence

Published: 08/12/2022 17:48:32 Modified: 08/12/2022 17:45:17 Thanks to journalist Brian Steele and the Gazette for the extensive Ju...

Published: 08/12/2022 17:48:32

Modified: 08/12/2022 17:45:17

Thanks to journalist Brian Steele and the Gazette for the extensive July 30 article on the big changes in central Florence. No, this story was not about the well-planned central Florence redesign project underway at that time, but about the ongoing gentrification.

Case in point: Residents of Florence/Northampton have expressed concern over new building owners’ plans to evict – via an unaffordable rent increase – the Pizza Factory and replace it with a cannabis retail store called Euphoria.

This article was probably the first time most readers had heard of this project. As proposed, Euphorium would be owned by father and son Marco and Richard Aranzullo of Connecticut.

A legally required community outreach meeting was originally scheduled to be held on August 1 at JJ’s Tavern, a bar. The location caused an outcry from Florence’s recovery community.

As a result, the Euphorium community outreach meeting has been postponed and moved. It will take place on Monday, August 15, in the parking lot behind the Pizza Factory, 143 North Maple St., at 6:30 p.m. There will be a virtual Zoom option to participate via this link: https://us06web.

Local cannabis entrepreneur Ezra Parzybok manages this process. Parzybok is a consultant in the nascent cannabis industry with many clients in New England, New York and beyond. He also owns cannabis delivery businesses. Parzybok’s website claims it is on a “first name basis with many licensing and inspection agents. Yes, they answer my phone calls.

Cannabis for medical and adult use is legal and regulated in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission approves and licenses cannabis businesses. Individual cities negotiate host community agreements with cannabis businesses and have ordinances or zoning regulations for location and related matters. Each community can negotiate fees with these companies, and the tax revenue goes to both the state and the host municipality.

The various concerns I have heard from Florence/Northampton residents against Euphorium include:

■Not here in this corner. It’s not what makes sense for central Florence, especially as it replaces a local family’s long-running popular take-out restaurant.

■Not here, too close to many service agencies helping clients with substance abuse and other mental health issues, many of whom live in this neighborhood.

■Not here, where middle schoolers congregate after school.

■Not here, including all of Northampton, because after welcoming this industry without capping the number of cannabis businesses, the town is now oversaturated with these stores. Small, locally owned cannabis companies are challenged to compete with the big operators, who have the deepest pockets.

■Not here, as being the “Cannabis Capital of Massachusetts” of retail, as described in a number of print and social media sources, may no longer be in Northampton’s best interests, as our The once diverse downtown retail and entertainment environment is struggling to regain its balance and appeal as a travel destination.

The Cannabis Control Commission and municipal officials (mayor and councillors) are required to consider the views of the community.

Wendy Foxmyn lives in Leeds.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Concerns over planned cannabis store in Florence
Concerns over planned cannabis store in Florence
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