Company that makes equipment for the military, landlord sue over proposed marijuana shop on industrial street

A military contractor and a landlord on a desolate industrial dead end sandwiched between the Expressway and the Red Line and commuter-rail tracks are suing the Zoning Board of Appeal for approving a dispensary on the street, arguing the shop will disrupt their deliveries and shipments and prove hazardous to anybody trying to walk there from the nearby JFK/UMass Red Line stop because the street has no sidewalks.

In the lawsuit, filed Thursday in Suffolk Superior Court, First Electronics Corp., at 71 Von Hillern St., which makes military-specification cables and related equipment, argues the proposed CNA Store at 70 Von Hillern, could also jeopardize its business:

FEC is concerned that the proximity of the medical marijuana dispensary (right outside its front door) could significantly impair its ability to secure government and defense contracts, as marijuana is still an illegal narcotic under Federal Law.

Even aside from that, the company, and Von Hillern Donovan, which owns two other buildings on the street, argue the new shop will mean security concerns: "This is not an area that the public typically frequents, which will change if the recreational marijuana dispensary is built, which will require VHD and FEC to enact more stringent security measures to address a different population that will be attracted to Von Hilleren Street."

The two argue the zoning board ignored requirements for the conditional permit the shop needs when it voted unanimously to approve the proposal at a June hearing, including that the proposal not harm the surrounding neighborhood and that it not become a hazard to an area's pedestrians and drivers: "FEC and VHD submit that the end of a street consisting almost entirely of a manufacturing is not appropriate location for any retail establishment, let alone a marijuana dispensary."

In their suit, the two say Von Hillern, as a narrow street with no sidewalks, is just barely workable as what is essentially an industrial driveway and that the 250 extra car trips a day they say the street's first retail shop will mean will cause problems both for the drivers of trucks making deliveries and picking stuff up and for existing workers who navigate the street on their way to and from JFK/UMass. They add that CNA's workers - whom CNA says it will give CharlieCards to encourage them to take the T instead of driving - would also be put at risk.

At a June 7 hearing, a CNA attorney said that while no parking is required for a cannabis shop, CNA would be providing seven parking spaces.

If approved by the state Cannabis Control Commission, the shop would be the company's third operation in Massachusetts and first in Boston.

City Councilor Frank Baker supported the proposal; at the June hearing, nobody spoke against, although a liaison from the city Office of Neighborhood Services said that at an abutters meeting, nearby business owners, including First Electric, voiced concern that the street was "poorly lit" and already had issues with "loitering and other illicit activities."

The suit asks a judge to throw out the board's approval of the proposed shop.

June 7 zoning-board hearing:

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