The largest city in western Massachusetts could have its first recreational marijuana store open by the end of the year.
The City Council voted Tuesday to approve special permits for the first three marijuana storefront retail locations in Springfield. A fourth proposed cannabis store failed to secure a permit by one vote following a two-hour public hearing.
A permit was approved for Holistic Industries to operate a marijuana store in a shopping center on Boston Road. Company officials told councilors they could be open for business in 90-120 days because they have priority status for final licensing from the Cannabis Control Commission by virtue of operating a medical marijuana dispensary elsewhere in the state.
Springfield City Council President Justin Hurst said it is “excellent” that Springfield could see its first recreational marijuana store open within months.
"The Council did an excellent job in terms of really analyzing the companies that came before us," Hurst said. "I think the companies presented really well."
Permits were also approved for a marijuana store in a building that once housed a gymnasium on Page Blvd in East Springfield and for one in the Gasoline Alley commercial complex on Albany Street in the McKnight neighborhood.
Officials with those businesses estimated it would take at least 9 months before they would receive approval from the state to open.
Each of the special permits contains about two dozen conditions including requirements that the store owners consult with the Springfield Police Department on security plans and with the Department Public Works on traffic control.
Payton Shubrick, CEO of 6 Bricks, the family-owned company that plans to open the store on Albany Street, said she is “honored and humbled” by the council’s unanimous vote to approve the special permit.
"We put forth what we felt was the best proposal with a team that was confident in what we were proposing in terms of being a good neighbor and working really hard to insure that we had a safe establishment for our customers," said Shubrick.
The council voted 8-3 to approve a permit for INSA Inc. to operate a marijuana store in a building on West Columbus Ave just off Interstate 91. Nine votes, or two-thirds of the 13-member City Council, are required for a special permit.
Melinda Phelps, an attorney for INSA, said the company is “obviously disappointed.” She said the reasons cited for denying the permit may not be legally valid.
" We are certainly looking into our legal options and we will pursue them," said Phelps.
Hurst, who voted against the permit, said the proposed location of the store would be a financial bonanza for INSA but not for other businesses in the city.
He said people will " get off the highway, get their weed, and get right back on the highway."
Councilor Orlando Ramos opposed the permit because he said INSA already had too large a footprint in the region with a medical marijuana dispensary in Springfield and a recreational store in Easthampton.
The third no vote came from Councilor Adam Gomez, who said he was troubled by a lack of endorsements for the proposed store from neighborhood groups.
No member of the public spoke against INSA’s permit request at Tuesday night’s hearing.
As Springfield moved closer to having its first marijuana store open, the Cannabis Control Commission Tuesday approved regulations for the home delivery of marijuana.
Expected to begin next year, people will be able to order marijuana products for delivery after they register at a retail location.
Deliveries will be not be allowed to hotels, dormitories, or government-funded housing.
People who live in towns that have banned marijuana stores will be out of luck for home delivery unless the municipality votes to allow it.