UPDATED: Two companies pitch cannabis cultivation, retail locations

Aug 19, 2019

Dartmouth might be seeing a lot more green in its future, as a marijuana cultivator and a cannabis company could move into the north end of town.

Health Circle, Inc. has submitted plans to the Planning Board to open a recreational marijuana dispensary at the VF Outlet on Faunce Corner Road. 

The Rockland-based company is seeking a special permit to open up the shop in the town’s retail marijuana district, which covers a portion of Faunce Corner Road and the New Bedford Business Park. 

Dartmouth can support three facilities, a number set by the town’s number of available liquor licenses. The town accepted applications for the first host agreement in April. 

A public hearing for that proposal is set for a Planning Board meeting on September 9 at 7 p.m. 

In a separate project, cannabis cultivators may move into the Dartmouth Indoor Tennis property on State Road — if they can get zoning laws changed to allow them in.

Casco Botanical Department, a Maine-based cannabis growing company, presented a citizens’ petition to change the zoning bylaw at a Planning Board meeting on Monday night.

The company wants the town to allow cultivation — but not retail — of cannabis in the general business district around Route 6, outside the current marijuana overlay district.

Only one special permit for cannabis cultivation is allowed in the town.

Casco CEO Edward Phipps stated during the meeting that he had been looking for a suitable location for his business “for quite some time,” but was unable to find one within the current marijuana overlay district.

“Certainly we would love to find something in the district. It would be the path of least resistance,” he said. “But nothing has come to fruition with that yet.”

Phipps explained that Dartmouth Indoor Tennis is “ideal for our needs” because it’s a large, open space with high ceilings, as well as being set back from the road and far from schools and day care facilities. 

It is unclear what will become of Dartmouth Indoor Tennis should the plan move forward.

Richard Burke, attorney for Casco, stated that the move would require re-zoning as well as a special permit.

However, he said allowing Casco to operate could benefit the town to the tune of $348,000 - $580,000 through a legally required ‘community impact fee’ of three percent of gross revenue.

The fee is mandated as part of a host community agreement between marijuana businesses and local government.

Burke also stated that the company would likely employ 14 people, ramping up to 30 a few years after starting operations.

“This is not just pie-in-the-sky,” he said. “This company operates already, and has successfully for a number of years.”

Planning Board Vice Chair Kevin Melo asked the company about federal regulations and security at the facility before voting in favor of the changes. 

“I’m enthusiastically supportive of this request,” said board member Stephen Taylor. “It seems extremely reasonable.”

The board voted unanimously to recommend the bylaw changes, which will be sent on to a vote at Town Meeting this fall.

But they did so on the condition that Casco work with town counsel Brian Cruise to tweak the wording of the articles.

As currently written, the changes would incorporate the business district within the town’s Marijuana Establishments Overlay District for cultivation and manufacturing uses only.

In an email read into the record at the meeting, Cruise pointed out that although the concept is not legally problematic, it would be simpler to allow cultivation by special permit in the General Business District instead of incorporating one district into another.

The changes will still have to pass at Town Meeting before becoming law.

Phipps said that he is looking forward to going through the next steps.

“We would love the opportunity to do what we can here in Dartmouth to give back to the community, and operate professionally, responsibly, and in a way that benefits both sides,” he said.

This article has been updated to include the fact that a marijuana retailer has submitted plans for a dispensary at the VF Outlet on Faunce Corner Road.