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There are two – not one – preliminary cannabis-retail shops in the works for Swampscott.
On Wednesday night, the Swampscott Board of Selectmen voted to allow Town Administrator Sean Fitzgerald to enter into negotiations with Terpene Journey LLC for a host community agreement.
Terpene Journey endeavors to operate a cannabis shop out of the old Custom Eye Care, 430 Paradise Road, tucked between Gourmet Garden and Domino’s Pizza in Swampscott Mall.
It’s a location Terpene Journey owners Thomas Bogacz and Justin Eppley have rented since August. The owners held a state-mandated community outreach meeting in the ReachArts building on Tuesday, Dec. 10.
An in-house screening committee vetted and reviewed Terpene Journey’s retail-cannabis application submitted to town staff. The selectmen’s vote Wednesday night arrived after the two owners and their security director, Patricia Haley, and chief counsel and strategist, James McMahon, presided over a presentation.
16 New Ocean St.
The town-owned building at 16 New Ocean St. is being eyed for the second shop. The town learned of the company’s interest through a request-for-proposal process town hall executed earlier in 2019. A screening committee vetted Calyx Peak Companies’ proposal and subsequently recommended the selectmen move forward with the company’s proposal, according to the town.
“Peak Companies proposed converting the existing retail building into an approximately 2,100 square foot retail cannabis store,” reads a press release from the Community and Economic Development Department. “The proposal was reviewed, and [Calyx Peak Companies] was interviewed by a screening committee.”
That committee recommended the proposal move forward with continued review by and discussion with town staff. On Wednesday night, Selectmen authorized town administrator and Community and Economic Development Director Marzie Galazka to enter into lease negotiations – not a host community agreement.
In its proposal, Calyx Peak Companies said it would execute “significant upgrades and improvements to the [16 New Ocean St.] building and site in order to improve the building’s appearance and to enhance parking and traffic safety.”
A final vote by selectmen for any cannabis shop is still months away, according to Swampscott selectmen and Galazka.
“The actions taken by the Select Board tonight are consistent with the recommendations of town staff and simply authorize town staff to continue our review of the applicants, the locations and specific proposals,” said Galazka. “No final decision will happen on either proposal or locations without further public input and review.”
Under state law, cities and towns are required to allow a minimum number of adult-use retail stores equal to 20 percent of the number of carry-out liquor licenses. In Swampscott, the math comes out to two retail cannabis shops.
Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) retains comprehensive oversight for adult and medical use marijuana. The commission is charged with implementing and enforcing statewide regulations, including approving licensing applications.
To the CCC, Terpene Journey plans to eventually submit an application for a cannabis retailer license – but it must cross off a state-mandated to-do list before doing so.
Conduct a community outreach meeting six months prior to submission of a license application
Certify compliance with local zoning, including buffer zone requirements
Enter into a host community agreement
The agreements are agreed-upon terms for a marijuana establishment to operate within a community, and it may include a community impact 3 percent fee of the marijuana establishment’s gross sales for the host community – on top of a 3 percent sales tax.
Swampscott supported the legalization of recreational marijuana sales in the 2016 presidential election – with over 53 percent of voters backing Question 4.