Site plan for Phillipston pot shop OK’d

  • Phillipston Town Hall in Phillipston. Paul Franz

For The Athol Daily News
Published: 4/8/2021 2:07:08 PM
Modified: 4/8/2021 2:07:05 PM

PHILLIPSTON — After first approving waivers to several zoning bylaws and setting conditions for the eventual issuance of a special permit, Phillipston’s Planning Board Monday night approved the site plan for a retail cannabis business. Local entrepreneur Damon Schmidt plans to establish the business at the corner of State Road/Route 2A and Baldwin Hill Road.

The board’s decision was made following a public hearing that had been continued from a previous date. The matter had been delayed in order to give consultant Patrick McCarty of McCarty Associates of Leominster the opportunity to review Schmidt’s plans. Those plans had been revised after McCarty in February had raised concerns regarding several issues with the proposal.

“We issued a follow-up review letter on March 24,” said McCarty. “Most of our comments, I think all of our comments, are actually addressed with the exception of some that we’ve deferred to the Planning Board.”

McCarty said one issue deferred relates to the septic system for the proposed store.

“The septic system design is to be approved by the Board of Health,” he said. “(Schmidt’s engineer Chris) Stoddard stated that they will do testing and the design in the springtime, if weather allows. Back in February it wasn’t ideal timing for that. So, I would expect that the board would want to make that a condition of approval.”

McCarty added that a well for the property will also be addressed later by the Board of Health. He noted that requirements for enough water to meet the needs of two dozen or more people are not applicable since no more than six people are likely to be on site at any given time.

The Planning Board granted waivers pertaining to the use of alternative energy, energy efficiency, landscaping, and designation of open space.

McCarty also recommended waiver of a requirement for a storm water pollution prevention plan at this time, suggesting that a condition be set that requires such a plan be submitted at least 10 days prior to the start of construction. The board voted to go along with the recommendation.

The greatest amount of discussion revolved around a proposed waiver of town regulations covering the labeling and marketing of cannabis products. Schmidt’s attorney, Nick Obolensky, said the town’s bylaw mimics state regulations, a point supported by McCarty.

“The CCC (state Cannabis Control Commission) governs what can be shown on their logos, what’s visible from the street, you can’t have cartoons on labels, sampling products or anything like that,” said McCarty. “It’s very well regulated. I think it’s a case of your bylaw duplicating CCC regulations.”

Planning Board Chair Bernie Malouin, however, said the bylaw seemed to indicate the town will have a say in the labeling of certain items.

“As a retail store,” Schmidt interjected, “we won’t label any items. I think this is more for manufacturing licenses. Ones that would label an item. So, all the items we buy as a retail store come labeled already.”

“But that doesn’t mean it’s always going to be like that,” Malouin replied.

“I can’t imagine why we’d start labeling products,” said Schmidt.

“In other words,” Obolensky said, “marketing and advertising plans are required from other types of marijuana establishments by the Cannabis Control Commission, but not retail establishments. The reason being that the retail establishments are not the ones who are actually labeling the products. It would be the product manufacturers, the cultivators, from whom the retail establishment buys the product, who would have to adhere to these marketing and advertising rules.”

McCarty suggested the regulation would apply to a business that had a cultivation/manufacturing facility in the back of an establishment, then sold the products in front.

“How do we know that potentially isn’t going to happen down the road?” asked Malouin.

“Because this applicant is not vertically integrated,” Obolensky replied, “and is not seeking a cultivation or product manufacturing license in the town of Phillipston.”

The board ultimately approved granting Schmidt a waiver from the labeling and marketing bylaw by a vote of 4-0-1, with board member Dan Sanden abstaining.

The overall site plan was then approved unanimously.

Greg Vine can be reached at gvineadn@gmail.com


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