Neighbors question NE marijuana distillery at civic meeting

In February, the daughter of the late Flyers founder Ed Snider told Parkwood residents about her plans for building a medical marijuana grow house in the neighborhood, and they backed her proposal unanimously.

Last week, other Parkwood residents quizzed Lindy Snider about an array of hypothetical scenarios and speculations regarding the proposed grow house. Snider answered those questions, too, even though the application deadline for the inaugural round of state marijuana licensing had passed two days earlier.

The latest dialogue occurred during a meeting of the Parkwood Civic Association on March 22. Neighborhood resident Brendan McPhillips addressed the community group to share his concerns about the potential impact of the marijuana operation on nearby facilities, including a park, a church, a school, a playground and a youth sports club. The Snider organization, doing business as Snider Health, has applied to build a 125,000-square-foot grow facility at 14515 McNulty Road. That’s less than a half-mile walk from Junod Playground via the Poquessing Creek Trail.

Reiterating an emailed statement that he sent to local news media in advance of the meeting, McPhillips theorized that Pennsylvania would legalize recreational marijuana “in the very near future.” Based on that assumption, he asserted that Snider would seek to expand the grow house into a dispensary or store with a “smoking lounge” for recreational pot smokers so to maximize the company’s profits. 

Based on that image of the future, McPhillips concluded that the walking trail would become a new “pot path” in Parkwood’s backyard.

McPhillips describes his theory in much greater detail on a website that he created to oppose Snider’s proposal. During last week’s meeting, Snider responded directly to the local activist’s claims.

“I read your website and I wish I had the opportunity to speak with you first,” she said. “You make a lot of assumptions without facts.”

Snider said she has no intention of applying for a dispensary or smoking lounge in the same McNulty Road site as the grow facility, were her company to win state approval for it, although she hopes to open dispensaries elsewhere. Furthermore, profits aren’t her only motivating factor.

“I’m a human being and a mom and I want to run the business in a way that my children are proud of me,” she said.

Snider added that she’s also interested in protecting the park and will employ stringent security measures, including guards, cameras and lighting. John DelRicci, the PCA vice president, said that the extra security might deter young people from misusing the park for drinking parties and other illegal activities.

With Snider still responding to audience questions, a woman resident complained that she never got word about the February civic meeting, where residents voted to support Snider’s proposal. So she didn’t get to lodge her disapproval then.

Despite the February vote, the civic association has no official role in the state licensing process. Aspiring growers and dispensers had to file applications by March 20. The state’s Department of Health plans to award two growing facility permits in the southeastern part of the state during the current round of licensing. The state plans to award the permits in about three months.

“I understand your concerns that we can’t fully predict the future, but we have this forum (the civic association) in place,” Snider said.

“The whole idea is to work with you and make you feel as comfortable as you can be.” ••