Entrepreneur presses for Phillipston pot retail, grow facility host agreement

  • Entrepreneur Damon Schmidt discusses plans for a cannabis retail/cultivation facility with Phillipston’s Selectboard, from left, Phillipston Chief Administrative Officer Kevin Flynn, Selectboard member John Telepciak, board Chair Kim Pratt and member Terry Dymek. Greg Vine

For the Athol Daily News
Published: 10/15/2019 9:55:14 PM
Modified: 10/15/2019 9:55:08 PM

PHILLIPSTON — Cannabis entrepreneur Damon Schmidt met with the Selectboard last week to try to move forward with the process of signing a host community agreement for a combination retail marijuana and cultivation facility at the intersection of Route 2A and Baldwin Hill Road.

“I just want to move forward on the HCA,” Schmidt said, “getting all the financial numbers and other particulars out of the way. So, hopefully we can get to signing that,” Schmidt told the board.

Schmidt said he had met with the Planning Board earlier in the week to discuss his plans. He said he’s hoping to amend the town’s zoning bylaws to allow him to extend his business beyond the 400-foot limit currently allowed.

“I’m still putting forth the idea of, hopefully, putting the greenhouse up on top of the hill out of everyone’s view,” he said. “I’m still pushing for that. Then I noticed there was a fall special town meeting, so I wasn’t sure if that would be too soon or if I’d have to wait until next year’s (annual) town meeting. We’ll do whatever the town wants.”

He said his main reason for being at the Selectboard meeting was to talk about the HCA and get that moved along.  “Hopefully, there are a couple of things we can agree on,” he said.

“My last recollection on the HCA,” said board member Terry Dymek, “is that we were pretty close to signing.”

One “big holdup” on the agreement, according to Schmidt, is the town’s insistence that he be required to contribute no less than $10,000 to a local nonprofit organization that would facilitate a marijuana education and prevention program to — according to a draft HCA — “promote safe, legal and responsible use” of marijuana. Phillipston Chief Administrative Officer Kevin Flynn said in a phone interview that Schmidt has told the board that such a requirement has not been included in other agreements he has signed.

Schmidt has signed agreements with the town of Royalston, where he plans on establishing a facility for cultivation and production only, and Templeton, where he plans to open a retail business. He told the board the agreement with Templeton had been signed approximately a month ago.

Finance Committee Co-Chair Tom Specht asked Shmidt how soon he anticipated being open for business in Phillipston.

“We need to get the HCA signed,” Schmidt said. “There are already 200 retail stores ahead of it in line (with the state’s Cannabis Control Commission). So, we just turned our application in for the Royalston place in January, and we just heard back three weeks ago. So, it’s about eight months before you hear back, and another three before you get licensed. I’d say, in Templeton, we’ll be open in September or October (of 2020). And then 12 months, whenever we sign here, we’ll be open.”

The Selectboard will hold a workshop meeting Wednesday night to discuss the host community agreement, among other items, Flynn said. Schmidt will then be asked to meet with the board to discuss a possible signing.

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