ADAMS, Mass. — Another marijuana retail facility is seeking permission to operate in Adams, this one within the Oasis package store.
Colonel Boothe, partner in Holistic Health Group Inc., introduced himself to the Board of Selectmen last Wednesday and explained that he wanted to open a medical/recreational dispensary at 35 Spring St.
"I wanted to introduce myself and give you a little background on our company," he said. "We want to be dedicated to the community and this is the very first step and I hope to get to know everyone here."
This would potentially be the third marijuana operation in town, with a grow facility and a retail operation -- both on Howland Avenue -- already approved.
Boothe said he is a real estate investor. His partners are Tim McNamara, a Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts graduate and attorney, and Paul Ofira, part owner of Ken's Foods.
"We are all essentially long-term entrepreneurs and we have been running businesses a combined 50 or so years," he said. "We are all successful in our own sense."
He said the location is outside of the 500 foot buffer for a school (the closest being St. Stanislaus School on Summer Street) and Boothe said the 6,000 square foot facility will be completely separated. They plan to use about 1,200 square feet.
The Selectmen had concerns that the space would be too tight for both a package store and a marijuana retail facility but Boothe said they do not need a lot of room. He said they would start off with selling only by appointment to control foot traffic and noted he suspects the bulk of their business will be delivery.
"A big part of our business in this area will be delivery once the bylaws are in place and those licenses are available," he said. "We feel that that will be the crux of the business."
He said the layout will be more clear when they submit the plans. He said right now they are too early in the process.
They plan to hire between 10 and 15 employees, who they hope to be local.
Boothe said they are currently building a facility in Middleborough that will support their focus on vertical integration. He said it will contain a growing facility, edibles kitchen, and processing lab.
"The benefit of that is if our store is able to open in Adams it will be fully stocked with products from our cultivation we don't have to buy from anyone else," he said.
The Oasis Package Store had other business with the town and new owner Michael Mazzeo and his attorney Andrea F. Nuciforo attended the meeting in opposition to a malt and wine license request by Adam's Hometown Market.
"There is plenty of access in the town of Adams for those who want to buy beer and wine. You all know where they are," Nuciforo said. "You know the marketplace and you know the level of competition and the question is whether you want to disrupt that. This will have a very material and adverse impact on those who have already invested in Adams."
Nuciforo acknowledged that the selectmen have every right to approve this request but cited the "Rule of 5,000" that in its current form allows the town to approve three more licenses even though it goes against the "rule of thumb" of the law that limits retail alcohol licenses based on population,
Selectman Joseph Nowak said the small market chain's other Massachusetts store sells beer, wine, and spirits so this is nothing new. He added that he thinks it is important to make sure the market succeeds in town.
"This community is in need of a stable market ... I think for the betterment of the community we have to look hard and make sure our market is successful," he said. "We don't want to become a food desert and I don't want to hurt anyone's business but this is for the betterment of the community."
Mazzeo estimated that Adam's Hometown Market would take $100,000 out of package stores' pockets. He said it will not only hurt his store, which is closest to the market but other longtime package stores.
"They will lose their business you are taking away from one and giving to the other," he said. "They have been here 25 years, they are your neighbors ... I feel bad for them I am already cheaper ... they are already hurting ... this is not a win-win situation."
The conversation was cordial but Nowak noted that Mazzeo, who purchased Oasis a few months ago, is also competing with established package stores.
"In the market, you have to be competitive and you are showing you are competitive by lowering your prices so that people will come to your place," he said. "You admitted that you would be hurting them. I know that you are a savvy businessman and you are doing the right thing."
The other selectmen had no issues with approving the license. Chairwoman Christine Hoyt, who moved to the area from New York State, said it is quite normal for markets to sell alcohol. She said she was surprised that it was not practiced in Adams.
She went on to say she thought the two could work together with Oasis selling more specialized products that maybe could not be purchased at the market.
Before the unanimous vote, Town Counsel Edmund St. John III said by granting the license the town is in total compliance with state law. He said if they did not grant the license, Adam's Hometown Market could appeal.
Also during the two-hour meeting, Police Chief Richard Tarsa Jr. said the town plans to switch from Code Red to Reverse 911 with the Berkshire County Sheriff's Office.
"It is a system that is free to us and it would be silly not take advantage of it," he said.
He said now that the sheriff's office handles the town's dispatch, they can take advantage of reverse 911, which essentially is the same as Code Red except more simple to use.
"It is very complicated to get that message out and that message comes out from another agency from another part of the country," he said. "With Reverse 911, all I have to do is make a phone call, call dispatch, send a text, or an email."
He added that the state-run service would also be free. Currently, the town pays $4,500 for the Code Red service and if it continues with it after the contract runs out in September, this price would increase.
He said the system is regularly updated but those who want calls on their cell phones need to register on the Berkshire County sheriff's website.
In other business, Town Administrator Jay Green updated the Selectmen on Chapter 90 road funds.
He said the current balance is $193,433 and they have another $297,000 earmarked for Compete Street funding.
He said another $287,324 is expected in fiscal 2020.
Green wanted to reiterate that a lot of this money goes toward engineering and design that only "unlocks" more money through the state.
He said some $219,000 in engineering has been spent for the Route 8 road overhaul project that is at 100 percent design. He said the town will receive $7 million for construction.
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