A company whose proposal for a recreational marijuana store in Brighton was rejected by Boston zoning officials is suing to overturn the decision, arguing the plan met the city’s standards and should have been approved.
New England Cannabis Corp., founded by luxury home developer Kenneth Stevens of Weston, filed the lawsuit against members of Boston’s Zoning Board of Appeals last week in Suffolk Superior Court.
The company’s proposed dispensary at 204 North Beacon St. was approved in September by the Boston Cannabis Board, which signed off on plans for neighborhood relations and traffic management. NECC signed a so-called host community agreement with the administration of Mayor Martin J. Walsh shortly after the vote, seemingly clearing its path to apply for a state permit and open for business.
However, in November, the ZBA — which must approve a variance for every cannabis license applicant in Boston — voted to reject the proposal. It said the company failed to demonstrate that the store was appropriately located and would not have a negative impact on the neighborhood and local traffic.
In its complaint, NECC countered that it had presented 600 letters of support from abutters and local residents, and said its proposed store would have little effect on neighbors thanks to an appointment-only shopping system, attendant-controlled parking lot, and large waiting area that will keep lines from forming on the sidewalk.
“The decision exceeded the ZBA’s authority and was arbitrary and capricious, an abuse of discretion, and erroneous in law and fact,” the company said in its complaint. “NECC respectfully requests that the Court annul the decision and enter an order directing the ZBA to issue the requested conditional use permit to NECC.”
A City Hall spokeswoman declined to comment, citing the ongoing litigation. Stevens did not respond to a request for comment.
Since the city’s new Cannabis Board was first seated last summer, the ZBA has signed off on all the marijuana companies approved by the board other than New England Cannabis Corp. However, zoning officials continue to exercise oversight as the final stop for cannabis entrepreneurs seeking local permission, including recently requiring a proposed Roslindale pot shop to close on Sundays.
The extent of local control over proposed marijuana facilities is also the subject of litigation before the state’s highest court, with a spurned Salem applicant challenging that city’s discretion to choose which otherwise-qualified operators may move forward in the process.