BREWSTER — The Haven Center ran into heavy traffic during its push for site plan approval of its adult use marijuana dispensary at 4018 Route 6A near the Orleans town line. The planning board has traffic worries and has requested another study.
“There’s a gas pedal under the table and my foot is on it,” Haven Center attorney Ben Zehnder told the board at is meeting Nov. 13. “The town has created a race to the permit so we would like to keep this moving. So I will be more aggressive than usual with this board.”
Now that the Haven Center is seeking to operate as a recreational rather than as a medical marijuana dispensary there is only one available license in Brewster. There are four other potential applicants, none as close to the finish line as the Haven Center. The Haven Center is also operating under older zoning rules, since it was grandfathered in.
Zehnder said the Haven Center still has to go before the Old Kings Highway Historic District Committee (the proposed shop is on the Old Kings Highway – Route 6A), have the site plan review approved by the planning board and receive approval from the board of health for the septic system. After that they should be ready to go, as they already have a provisional license from the state.
The Old Kings Highway committee will be looking at proposed stockade fencing around the building.
About the traffic: According to a traffic impact study that Haven Center provided, Zehnder said there will be 223 trip ends (or 112 cars) per hour at peak use. Each person should take 15 minutes to go through the shop.
“So we’ll need 28 spaces at peak,” Zehnder said. “This site is providing 31.” He added that employee parking will be on a vacant piece of land across from South Eagle Cartway, providing 15 spaces.
Since they anticipate the most business shortly after opening the Haven center is proposing a “soft opening” with sales by appointment only.
“So we can manage the number of people coming on site,” Zehnder explained. “That will be done on a month by month basis. Then it will be removed except for peak hours, if we remove it at all.”
Nevertheless residents and planning board members worried about the traffic and called for a second, independent study. Audience members agreed.
“I’m perplexed by the traffic impact study. I feel a peer review needs to be done sooner rather than later,” said board member Roberta Barrett. “I feel we as a board need another set of eyes so we can work on the number of spaces and the site plan.”
“I think appointment only is essential,” Paul Wallace of the planning board said. “That alleviates the concern about knowing how many people would come to the store.”
While appointments would cap how many people should be shopping per hour residents worried people might be driving by and decide to drop in, even if they can’t shop they would be driving in and out of the parking lot.
“It’s a destination store. People will know where they are going,” Zehnder replied.
“The concept of the soft opening won’t tell us what it will be like when there are no appointments,” board member Elizabeth Taylor observed. “And you can’t compare it to a liquor store because it will be the only (marijuana) store in town, in the summer, when our population goes to 30,000.”
Rebecca Rutenberg, of the Vincente Sederberg law firm that specializes in marijuana, had compared the regulation of cannabis outlets to that of liquor stores. She said customers would go in the front door, ring the doorbell and show an ID.
“That shows you have to want to be there,” she explained. “You buzz and enter the door one at a time for customized one on one service. You’ll get product information, learn where to consume it and make an order that will be fulfilled in back and it will be brought out front in a package.”
You’ll have to provide an ID again at the point of sale and the purchase will be logged.
“Two security officers will be there at all times,” Zehnder said. “The product will be locked in a vault when it’s closed.”
The Brewster Fire Department also had concerns about access behind the building due to the fencing proposed along Southern Eagle Cartway.
Town Planner Ryan Bennett said staff would issue a request for proposals for a traffic study and hopefully have something to report at the Dec. 18, meeting or by January.