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The Swampscott Board of Selectmen has voted unanimously to enter negotiations with marijuana retailer Calyx Peak for what’s called a “host community agreement.” Calyx Peak wants to open a pot shop at the former C & L Package Store at 16 New Ocean St.
And some in the neighborhood aren’t too happy about it.
“This is a residential area that butts up to people’s houses, with children, schools, houses of worship nearby,” said Len Russo, who lives on Rock Avenue. “How are we going to control the site? What are we going to do about people exchanging (marijuana) for harder drugs and so forth?”
Calyx Peak presented its proposal to selectmen on Wednesday, Sept. 2. It made the same presentation at a community meeting on Aug. 20, prompting angry responses from local residents. Several neighbors spoke at the selectmen’s Wednesday night meeting as well.
“Did you guys ever have a chance to stop by and talk to the residents here?” asked MD Islam, who lives nearby on Curry Circle. “You are about to make a decision that will impact all of us. I would hope that all of you could stop by and talk to us before you make your decision.”
The board agreed to plan a site visit soon and meet with neighbors.
Calyx Peak is seeking a decade-long lease at 16 New Ocean St., a .6-acre piece of town-owned property.
Calyx wants to raze the existing structure and build what it calls a “carriage house-style” store with landscaping and ten parking spaces. Staff will be transported by shuttle to the shop.
Calyx said it was committed to security and partnerships with the local community and police and fire departments.
“Security is heavily regulated,” said Peter D’Agostino with Calyx. The store will only serve people 21 years and older. It follows state rules for deliveries from its cultivation facility in Worcester to the shop, and storage of all products.
D’Agostino said marketing will be focused at people 25 and older. There will not be large outdoor signs like at marijuana retailers in Lynn and Salem, he said.
“We want to have a positive community impact,” D’Agostino added. “Our three main goals are partnership, security, and dialogue. All of these run concurrently and forever.”
The town will collect six percent of all sales at the shop, according to Marzie Galazka, Swampscott’s community and economic development director.
Calyx promised to use local vendors (plumbers, electricians, carpenters, etc.) and give Swampscott residents priority in hiring. The store plans to hire 27 employees — from cashiers to managers to bookkeepers.
If ultimately approved, Calyx hopes to open in 16-18 months, according to D’Agostino.
Selectman Peter Spellios assured nervous neighbors, like Russo, they will have their say before any final decision is made.
“You and the neighbors will have time to look at these documents,” Spellios said, referring to a host community agreement, “to actually see the documents and provide feedback before we ever take a vote.”
The host community agreement would address issues like parking, traffic, and security. If it’s approved, Calyx would then go through the state licensing process with the Cannabis Control Commission.
The state allows Swampscott to have two marijuana retailers. The town has already entered a host community agreement with Terpene Journey for a pot shop in Vinnin Square.