CLARKSBURG, Mass. — With the successful passage of a retail cannabis bylaw, town officials are now starting to look at a fee structure for all the licensing and inspections that will need to happen.
Those fees can include but are not limited to: applications, zoning compliance certification, building inspections, Fire Department inspections, security and legal fees, and host community agreement legal review fees. Most are one-time fees, others may be annual.
"We're also going to have to establish some parameters on the Board of Health, an annual inspection fee like for instance we have for restaurants," Town Administrator Carl McKinney told the Select Board on Wednesday. "Because they are having a consumable product, if you will. ... I'm trying to get some numbers, I don't want to wildly throw some numbers out there, but I want to be somewhat consistent with the other communities."
The community host agreement provides payments up to five years. Hadley had negotiated an agreement for a medical dispensary four years ago for $50,000, McKinney said. Northampton did not sign a host agreement but instead will receive $100,000 a year and a 1.5 percentage of the profits of its dispensary. Other communities have negotiated not only money, but levels of hiring for local people or for diversity.
McKinney noted that a much larger town like Hadley, which is also in densely populated area, can command more.
"With the understanding we're a smaller community, but that can go right into the general fund," he said.
The state Cannabis Control Commission is expected to begin accepting applications for licenses for retail marijuana and related production facilities in April, with the first of about 75 licenses statewide to dispensed in June. Communities are seeing the state legalization of pot as new source of revenue since the state will also allow a local sales tax of up to 3 percent.
However, as more states legalize marijuana, the level of competition will grow. There's also the concern that the U.S. Department of Justice will interfere in the growing trade because it remains illegal at the federal level.
McKinney said he was going to go through the current fee schedule and will add in the fees for the marijuana licensing and certificates and have it back to the board by mid- to late February.
"We should up and running and ready to go for when the floodgates open," he said.
Chairman Jeffrey Levanos also asked if there were going to be changes to the solary array bylaw approved in December. A number of residents had expressed concern that the overlay district for large commercial arrays was limited to one section of town on the west side. At least one resident is trying to install an agricultural array — an installation designed to work with agricultural pursuits — off Daniels Road.
"My thought is to just expand the overlay district to those areas that are appropriate for it," McKinney said. He anticipated putting that to a vote at town meeting after the Planning Board holds hearings. "I think that will be an easy one because we don't have to change tables or any of the uses, it's just going to expand the overlay district."
Any array would still have to go through the permitting process and abuttors within 300 feet of a property line would be alerted to the fact that any proposal was seeking permitting.
In other business:
• McKinney said department budget requests were coming in and he expected to hold the first budget review on Jan. 22. The town now has a full Finance Committee comprised of James Stakenas, Mark Denault and Ronald Boucher, a former North Adams city councilor who recently moved over the border.
The governor's budget should be released in a little over two weeks and McKinney thought a good sign was that state revenues were pacing $720 million over what had been anticipated.
"I don't know if that means they're going to find it in their hearts to help out small towns and cities with state aid, or put it in the rainy day fund in Boston, or fund other initiatives they weren't able to fund with the budget they passed last year," he said. "But at least one good thing out of that is it's unlikely that will get the governor's 9C cuts halfway through the year."
• The board had placed David Dunn of Middle Road on the agenda but he did not attend the meeting.
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