Holding an outreaching meeting is a state mandate before submitting application to the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission.
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Parking and traffic issues emerged as the top concerns aired in a recent community-outreach meeting the Terpene Journey LLC hosted – a marijuana startup aiming to open a cannabis retail store in a Swampscott Mall storefront.
Terpene executives and owners Tom Bogacz and Justin Eppley, a Swampscott couple, specifically endeavor to open and operate their cannabis shop out of the old Custom Eye Care, 430 Paradise Road, tucked between Gourmet Garden and Domino’s Pizza.
The cannabis shop would be open Monday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. There will be no onsite cannabis consumption.
By the end of the 90-minute outreach meeting, Terpene Journey owners pledged to continue communication with abutters and explore the possibility of implementing an online appointment system.
To the Massachusetts’ Cannabis Control Commission (CCC), Terpene Journey plans to eventually submit an application for a cannabis retailer license.
If awarded, it would allow their Swampscott cannabis shop to, as Bogacz put it: “possess and transport marijuana to other establishments” and “sell marijuana products to consumers 21 years or older in person or via an approved delivery vendor.”
The outreach meeting, staged in the ReachArts’ gallery space, drew mostly abutters. Several people told the owners that they had no problem with the legalization of marijuana, but they shared concerns with additional traffic and parking a Vinnin Square cannabis shop might spawn.
“The traffic is so bad now, you can’t get out. You just can’t,” said David Buffers, the chairman of the Crown Pointe residential complex’s board of trustees, of trying to pull out on to Paradise Road. “We are the closest people to [the proposed cannabis shop].”
Two people in attendance articulated concerns with the nature of the business – operating in a vibrant part of Swampscott where young people hang out and congregate.
Terpene Journey’s security director, Patricia Haley, and chief counsel and strategist, James McMahon, joined Eppley and Bogacz in presenting their building security and safety plans and studies for traffic and parking mitigation.
Eppley showed the room Terpene Journey-commissioned, traffic-and-parking studies showing hourly car trips to be quite lower than neighboring Starbucks. Whereas Starbucks had 101 car trips in the mornings, the cannibas shop would receive 10. At 36 trips per hour, Saturday midday would be the shop’s weekly peak time. At one point, Eppley showed a slide show of a collective total of nearly 500 parking spaces in the Swampscott Mall area.
On the safety part, the owners stated more than once the CCC holds marijuana dispensaries to higher security standards than comparable establishments like liquor stores and/or bars. They plan on installing multiple security cameras, and they will have to compile with the state’s seed-to-sale tracking system.
“Both [Swampscott] chiefs vetted the security plan,” Bogacz said, adding that the comprehensive security plan looks a lot like “bank security.”
The chiefs have not approved any security plan yet.
The couple has rented the space since August. For the past three years, they have been preparing this business venture.
“We have conducted extensive market research to ‘get this right’ and have secured funding to comfortably launch the business,” said Bogacz.
Officials have said plenty of marijuana start ups have expressed interest in establishing a Swampscott location, but Terpene Journey appears to be the most formal inquiry, officials said.
According to the CCC license process, prospective applicants like Terpene Journey must cross off a state-mandated to-do list:
Conduct a community outreach meeting six months prior to submission of a license application
Certify compliance with local zoning, including buffer zone requirements
Enter into a host community agreement
HCAs are agreed-upon terms for a marijuana establishment to operate within a community. The agreement may include a community impact 3 percent fee of the marijuana establishment’s gross sales for the host community – on top of a 3 percent
Swampscott Board of Selectmen is finalizing a HCA process and putting together a committee to vet submitted proposals.
Swampscott supported the legalization of recreational marijuana sales in the 2016 presidental election – with over 53 percent of voters backing Question 4.