FALL RIVER — A local man’s proposal to build two adult-use marijuana dispensaries on South Main and Second streets came under fire Tuesday as neighboring residents shared concerns over traffic congestion and the developer’s personal connection to Mayor Jasiel Correia II.
New Leaf Enterprises is one of roughly a dozen companies trying to open a recreational marijuana dispensary in Fall River, but the company has attracted unique criticism because the president, Pedro “Peter” Fernades, is the brother of Correia’s live-in girlfriend.
Correia, who is the sole local approving authority in Fall River’s cannabis licensing process, granted letters of non-opposition and community host agreements for two dispensaries to be run by New Leaf Enterprises, making New Leaf the only Fall River-based cannabis retail business so far to gain approval for two separate locations.
A state-mandated public outreach meeting held at Fall River Public Library Tuesday evening produced a combative atmosphere between city residents and company representatives. The chief concerns raised by residents were parking and traffic congestion, but Last Street resident Pam Cabucio questioned whether any of the issues would be taken to heart.
“His sister is dating the mayor so we already know this is going to go through,” she said during the half of the meeting dedicated to the planned dispensary at 2629 South Main Street.
Cabucio later added, “I think no matter what we say, it’s a done deal because (Fernades) has an in with the mayor.”
Correia told The Herald News earlier this month that the optics of granting approval to Fernandes’ two locations could be questioned, but that he couldn’t “disadvantage” Fernandes just because of the businessman’s relationship to his girlfriend. He said New Leaf had to present its plan like any other group.
The mayor also stressed that while he can grant local approval, the state