The Planning Board gave unanimous approval Monday night for a special permit to allow the operation of what could be the first marijuana retailer in the city.

The Berkshire Eagle reports the new shop would be located in the former Friendly's restaurant at 221 State Road, in the same shopping center that once housed the Price Chopper grocery store.

A couple of neighbors protested the proposal, saying it is incongruous with the residential neighborhood across the street, although the location is within the city zoning ordinance that allows retail marijuana in the Industrial-1 zone.

Anthony Parrinello, the owner of the Stow-based Evergreen Strategies LLC, told the board that he is an established businessman with years of experience in the medical marijuana industry as the former chief operating officer of Sira Naturals and then the CEO of Temescal Wellness.

He said he would like the store to open by early spring, although the ultimate decision on when operations begin will be up to the state Cannabis Control Commission.

According to project architect Dave Westall, the building will remain basically the same, although the color of the trim would change, and there would be some fencing around the dumpster in back. He noted that all the windows would be changed out for frosted glass. Additional security measures also will be installed.

The building is surrounded by other businesses, including the vacant former Price Chopper, Monro Muffler Brake, Oriental Buffet and the Thrifty Bundle Laundromat.

The next steps for Evergreen include closing on the property and receiving approval to operate from the CCC.

So far, the state has authorized the opening of only two retail marijuana shops. The closest is in Northampton.

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