PRINCETON — The impact fee paid by Red Cardinal, the company that is going to renovate Mechanics Hall in East Princeton for use as adult-use marijuana establishment was discussed briefly by the select board at its Sept. 10 meeting, with a community presentation hosted virtually by the prospective retailer just hours later.
The impact fee is meant to cover costs the town incurs in order to accommodate the retail marijuana business, such as traffic control, legal and administrative costs, infrastructure improvements if needed and similar types of expenses.
According to the state Cannabis Control Commission, the fee can be set no higher than 3 percent of gross sales, although it must be reasonably proportional to actual expense and sales.
Town administrator Sherry Patch has had discussions with the town’s department heads on their anticipated expenses, but said numbers really won’t be available until “things are up and running, and then we’ll have to continually monitor it.”
Select board chair Karen Cruise said some department heads have checked the expenses related to running a retail marijuana shop with towns like Leicester, which also has one.
Cruise and Patch agreed that the best way to begin tracking spending is to use a template like the town of Littleton, where they listed anticipated categories of expenses and will look at the impact again after a year when real numbers are available.
Fire Chief John Bennett requested that any details hired by Red Cardinal use the town’s fire and police personnel, a suggestion that gave Cruise concern.
“Police take details when they’re not on duty, but when you have a call fire department, it takes available responders away,” she said.
The board also deliberated the building use policy that is being developed for the Senior/Community Center at Post Office Place.
A COVID-19 checklist was approved by the board, but a disagreement arose on extending building use to for-profit groups.
Select board member Matthew Moncreaff said he would like to see the policy “a little more friendly” towards for profit-use, such as instructors who charge fees for exercise or instructional classes.
“Every other town allows this,” he said.
Cruise initially objected to for-profit use, but agreed instructional uses would be acceptable as long as it was something that engaged the town.
Someone had asked to rent the Senior/Community Center kitchen for their catering business, Cruise said, but she was opposed to that type of use.
She asked if the town was going to let groups like the Boy Scouts rent the space out for multiple weeks when town boards often don’t have enough meeting space and meetings were often scheduled just 48 hours ahead of time.
Moncreaff said community events should get priority booking. He suggested a compromise such as setting one night a week aside for town government purposes, so the community is not effectively blocked from using the building.
The Town Hall Annex is available for use, Patch said. Moncreaff added that once Bagg Hall has an elevator installed during its restoration, there will be additional meeting space on the second floor.
Cruise suggested the topic be discussed again before another town meeting. In the meantime, the proposed building use policy will continue to be finalized.