Forcier Frustrated By Slow Progress on Town’s Marijuana Application
Dec 04, 2018 05:57AM
By Lisa Redmond
DRACUT – Selectman Chairman Jesse Forcier expressed his frustration last week that there are “people waiting in line’’ to set up marijuana facilities in Dracut, but the town administration has been slow to take the first step by crafting an application form.
At its meeting on Nov. 27, the board held a hearing to review amendments to the selectmen’s special permit and rules and regulations, special permit/site plan application forms and fees. A key change amends the special permit to allow for applications for special permits for marijuana facilities.
While the board was presented with a draft application that calls for a $1,000 application fee for marijuana facilities, board members were initially uncertain if they should close the public hearing and approve the changes or wait for Town Administrator James Duggan to provide his input at its Dec. 18 meeting. Duggan was absent from the meeting due to recent surgery.
After much discussion, the board voted to close the hearing and voted to approve the amendment for a $1,000 application fee for a marijuana special permit, while all other application fees will remain at $75.
Before the vote, Forcier said he is “not happy’’ that the town has been slow in making the necessary changes to attract marijuana businesses to Dracut. The town has embraced marijuana as a business, according to published reports.
Forcier described the marijuana application approved by the board as “boiler plate’’ with nothing “Dracut-centric’’ that would have slowed the process. He said the town should have had an application form a year ago, meanwhile, “there are people waiting in line for this application.’’
Last month, GreenStar Herbals, owned by Boxboro resident Tom E. Morey, held a community meeting, which is required by law, to explain his plans for the town’s first recreational marijuana dispensary. The company is considering a building at 76 Pleasant St.
The company expects to hire 8-12 full time workers with at least half being Dracut residents. Morey is on track to meet state and town requirements for security, traffic and other concerns, but he can’t move forward without first being granted a special permit by the Board of Selectmen.
In discussing the marijuana application fee, several board members questioned the $1,000 fee. Selectman Tony Archinski questioned whether the town is “gouging’’ the marijuana companies when all other application fees are $75.
Forcier explained that Dracut’s fee is comparable to those charged by other communities ranging from $500 to $1,500. The amount is justified because there are a number of reviews that will needed by town departments. The application is the one of the first steps in the process to get town and state approval. Marijuana companies must sign a “host community agreement’’ that requires a marijuana establishment to pay a “community impact fee’’ that can be thousands of dollars.