Permit conditions approved for Heights marijuana dispensary

Faces reviews by health board, police, state

UPDATED, Feb. 7: The Redevelopment Board has unanimously approved all previously raised special conditions for Apothca, the medical and recreational marijuana retailer slated for 1386 Mass. Ave., site of the Swifty Printing Co.

Redevelopment Board logo, Jan. 23, 2013

Issues supported Jan. 27 concern traffic and parking, the floor plan, window sign and application, and police involvement.

The application heads for final reviews by the Board of Health and police, which includes a memo of understanding and receiving a license from the state Cannabis Control Commission to operate.

Asked how long this might take, Planning Director Jenny Raitt wrote Feb. 5: "My best guess would be that all steps will be completed within six to nine months. They also need a building permit to begin fit out of the space and site work."

Traffic, parking

“We’re looking for on-site drop-off and ride-share space,” said Apothca attorney Phil Silverman.

Tony Capachietti, a civil engineer with Hayes Engineering Inc., said, “The drop-off space will be only for ride-share drop-off and pickup. The board is looking for something with minimal interference, so if people get off Mass. Ave., vehicles can move fairly quickly.”

“However, there’s no place for anyone to actually wait for rideshares,” said board member Rachel Zsembery.

“A lot attendant will be standing outside to direct people,” answered Capachietti.

“I appreciate the concept of drop-off and pickup. My concern is if people request a rideshare to this address, what if the rideshare isn’t familiar with this location, and just drops them off at Mass. Ave.?” asked board member David Watson.

Watson suggested adding this information on signs directing people to the ride-share and drop-off/pickup area, and board Chair Andrew Bunnell agreed, “It’ll be better with signage.”

”We’ll add this information to, and make it clear on, the website,” responded Capachietti.

Apothca owner Joseph Lekach added, “We’ll put maps on the website, with shaded areas to indicate where customers are to go. We’ll also inform customers if they’re in the wrong place when they arrive.”

At the meeting, Raitt said she would address additional signs directing customers to rideshares.

“We can also address it in our memo of understanding,” added Lekach. 

Window sign, application

“We agreed to go with the board’s advice of having a backlit, glass-cut sign,” said Silverman.

“The window application will be a translucent film that goes on the window to simulate frosted glass. It must be able to prevent people from seeing inside the building, which is important to the CDC [Centers for Disease Control],” explained Silverman. 

Floor plan

“Per the board’s request, we’re providing a separation between the entryway and the rest of the building, inside bicycle storage for employees and gender-neutral bathrooms,” said Silverman.

Raitt said she would address the issue of queuing, “which is critical, to make sure customers are out of the public way.” 

Police involvement

Raitt said there is a continued need to maintain a relationship with the Arlington Police Department, including back-and-forth communication and making sure Apothca is responsible for police details, especially during peak times.

“We conducted a tour with the Arlington police department, and we’ll hold meetings prior to and after the store’s opening. We’ll be in constant communication about what’s going on and regarding high demand times, such as April 20,” said Silverman. Cannabis celebrations have taken place April 20 since 1971.

“We also want an understanding with the police that if something is coming up, we'll add extra information to the website, such as discouraging people from coming at a certain time or suggest they make a reservation,” added Silverman.

Apothca has operated a medical-marijuana dispensary at 11 Water St. since October 2018 and plans to move it to the Heights, if its plan is approved and receives a state license.


Jan. 10, 2020: Hearings continue over Heights marijuana-store plans

Nov. 18, 2019: Redevelopment meeting minutes

June 18, 2019: Community hears aims for Heights marijuana store 


This news summary, by YourArlington freelance writer Susan Gilbert, was published Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020, and updated Feb. 8, to removed "former" from the lead. Swifty Printing is still there.