TAUNTON — In the face of fierce neighborhood opposition a divided Taunton City Council voted by a razor thin margin to deny a special permit for a proposed retail marijuana shop on Winthrop Street in the Westville section of the city.
“I do not want and other people do not want Westville to turn into Weedville,” Range Avenue resident Dane Rogers told the City Council Tuesday night at a marathon public hearing attended by about 100 residents for and against the proposal in a standing-room only Council chambers.
The vote was five to four in favor of the applicant. But since special permits require a two-thirds majority of six of the nine councilors for passage, the permit was denied.
Bask, Inc., a Fairhaven medical marijuana cultivator, processor, and dispensary, was proposing to open a 2,100-square-foot retail marijuana store at 400 Winthrop St., the current home of 44 Express convenience and liquor store. The plan was to renovate the existing building, at a cost of about $400,000, Bask President Timothy Keogh told the Council.
The location is in a highway business district that runs through a residential neighborhood on either side of Route 44.
“We are your residents. We are your taxpayers. We ask to be listened to and not ignored,” said Willitts Mendonca, co-chairman of the Greater Westville Neighborhood Association, to a standing ovation from a large portion of the residents in attendance.
The association submitted a petition in opposition to the project signed by 122 residents.
The Council also received a couple of dozen letters in support, officials said.
Several councilors said they toured Bask’s Fairhaven facility and praised the company’s professionalism, know-how and experience, as well as the planned security measures and discreet signage at the Winthrop Street location.