By Joe Pohoryles
Boston University News Service
Plans for a proposed adult-use cannabis store in Dorchester were laid out Tuesday night during a public virtual meeting, as CNA Stores Inc. laid out their vision for a site at 70 Von Hillern St., nestled between the MBTA Red Line and Interstate 93.
The city of Boston facilitated the community outreach meeting, which involved owners of CNA Stores explaining their plans when it came to security, involving the local community and more.
CNA Stores CEO Rob DiFazio was among the speakers, who explained what made the location an ideal spot for their next business, after opening stores in Haverhill and Amesbury in the last year.
“We’re not in-your-face, in regards to mainstream retail, which I think works well for what we’re doing,” DiFazio said.
He also explained how CNA, short for “Completely Natural Alternatives,” is a veteran-owned business that focuses on “quality, integrity and commitment” when it comes to cannabis products, as well as their business operations.
The company only distributes cannabis products, but DiFazio added they are in the process of opening their own cultivation facility.
Director of Security Dan Magoon laid out the physical and technical levels of security planned for the proposed location, which includes cameras, on-site security staff and collaboration with Boston City Police.
“We don’t stop training all of our employees, all of our staff. It’s constant vigilance,” Magoon said. “Security is the number one part of what we do on a day-to-day basis.”
No one under 21 will be allowed within the premises, Magoon said, asserting the use of a “highly sophisticated” ID scanner will prevent any minors from entering. There will also be a zero-tolerance policy for consumption anywhere in or around the store, and those in violation will be reported to Boston Police.
Citizens attending the meeting expressed concerns about opening a dispensary on Von Hillern Street, saying the store location is too close to a nearby housing project and the area’s immense foot traffic should have been previously considered.
Will Donnellan, of First Electronics Corporation, said his business is on the same street and faces the CNA Stores’ planned location.
“I’ve been [on Von Hillern Street] for 22 years, so I’ve seen that street, the traffic patterns, the vagrants, the homelessness,” Donnellan said. “When somebody mentioned that they want to open a dispensary across the street, my initial reaction was ‘Are you crazy?’”
Donnellan said a lack of parking, the constant partying and abundance of unhoused people on Von Hillern Street are major concerns for opening a potential CNA Stores location.
CNA Stores Inc. must complete a traffic study regarding that area of Dorchester to gather more information, DiFazio said, and expressed his desire to meet individually with Donnellan and others to discuss their concerns.
“That’s kind of why we’re talking to the community and why we’re getting [their] feedback,” DiFazio said. “It doesn’t fall on deaf ears.”