LEOMINSTER — After a heated discussion, the City Council voted 6-1 Monday night to grant the special permit needed by Prime Wellness Centers to open the city’s first medical marijuana dispensary.
A vote on granting the special permit had to be held twice, after the initial 5-2 vote was deemed invalid due to the council needing a two-thirds majority to approve the permit request.
Ward 1 Councilor Gail Feckley, who had initially voted against the special permit, changed her mind during the second vote while at-large Councilor Claire Freda maintained her opposition to the permit request.
“I am not going to support a company that I do not feel comfortable with that you can’t take back once you grant that special permit,” Freda said, explaining that she was ready to start the application process over again. “Whether that’s another arduous process or not, I can’t change that.”
During the following discussion the other members of the council reiterated their support of granting the permit and expressed their concerns with letting the process drag on further.
“To say now, at this juncture ‘forget it’ is really a slap in the face to people out there who could use this,” said Ward 4 Councilor Mark Bodanza. “They might not have another eight months to figure out if we have a five star company or a 4 1/2-star company. This company passed muster.”
Freda clarified at numerous points during the discussion that she was not opposed to the prospect of legalized medical marijuana, only that she was against granting a permit to Prime Wellness Centers.
She referred to not receiving a copy of the dispensary’s site plan and not having an executed community host agreement as two of the reasons for her decision not to vote with the rest of