Hearing date set for plans to convert Cork 'N Hearth in Lee into a marijuana store.

The Lee Select Board has set May 4 for a public hearing on a special permit request for Forest Wilde LLC to convert the Cork ’N Hearth restaurant on Route 20 at the Lenox town line, seen in this aerial view, into a marijuana manufacturing facility and retail store.

LEE — Critics and proponents of the town's proposed second retail recreational marijuana store get to have their say early next month.

The Lee Select Board on May 4 will hear the pros and cons of Forest Wilde LLC's special permit application to manufacture cannabis products and sell them at an outlet on Route 20.

The public hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. and will be a Zoom meeting. The online link to the meeting will be posted on the town's website, lee.ma.us.; to find it, click on public meetings/notices.

The permit is for the property that now houses the Cork 'N Hearth restaurant on Route 20, on the shore of Laurel Lake. The long-established eatery, sandwiched between the Lenox town beach and Lakehouse Inn, remains open for dine-in and takeout dinners Wednesday through Saturday, according to its website.

Since February, neighbors of the proposed pot shop have raised concerns about the project,  during the Lee Planning Board site-plan review phase. The board in March approved the site plan and a special permit for a small addition to the 4,550-square-foot building, space to be used for secure storage.

A major issue raised so far is the operation's effect on traffic, such as vehicles entering and leaving the site and the lack of a third lane on the winding, narrow stretch of state road.

"My biggest concern is, there's no turning lane on that highway," said David Consolati, chairman of the Select Board.

Another concern has been the impact on the municipal water supply, but Consolati says the marijuana store will use less than the restaurant and recycle the water it uses.

If Forest Wilde secures the special permit, it would seek a license from the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission. The developer is hoping to get the CCC license in time to open the store by the end of this year.

Jeanne Carmichael, of Lee, and Cassandra Purdy, from Roxbury, Conn., are the principals of Forest Wilde seeking Select Board approval.

The business would join Canna Provisions on Housatonic Street, near the Massachusetts Turnpike exit, as the only two pot shops in Lee, the maximum number allowed by the town.

Dick Lindsay can be reached at rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com

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