Planning Board discusses retail marijuana | News

TEWKSBURY — The Tewksbury Planning Board met on July 18, 2022 for a nearly four-hour meeting in Tewksbury Town Hall. Member Eric Ryder was not in attendance.

In her report, Town Planner Alex Lowder shared that arancini makers Brelundi are moving ahead with plans to take over the former Mirabella’s Bakery. The company is undergoing reviews with the fire department and building commissioner, and will be demolishing a house on the lot to expand parking upon approval.

Lowder also reported that the former Discount Madness site at 1325 Main St. is being cleaned up at the board’s request while construction is halted. In addition, Tree House Brewing Company is undergoing review with the fire and building departments to create a refrigerated drive-up order pickup station at the former saloon building at 1880 Main St. The company’s goal is to start retail beer sales in the fall, before converting the country club to a craft beer operation next year.

Lowder reported that the town recently received a $193,000 municipal vulnerability preparedness (MVP) grant to conduct a resident survey on flooding throughout town and to look into potential solutions to flooding challenges.

Finally, the vacant lot at 2131 Main St., across from Boudreau Auto, is slated to start construction on a multifamily townhouse development; the board previously expressed dissatisfaction with the state of the lot.

Lowder added that with the recent resignation of member Eric Ryder, the board will meet with the Select Board to choose an interim replacement to fill the seat until the spring town election in 2023 to finish out Ryder’s term. Because the board now has only four members, any special permit that comes before the board requiring a supermajority approval will require all four members to vote for the permit; permits cannot be considered if fewer than the four remaining members attend the meeting.

The board discussed retail marijuana with Assistant Town Manager Steve Sadwick. After conducting research, Sadwick recommended that the town adopt a license-only model in which the Select Board would serve as special permit granting authority; the town can issue a number of retail marijuana licenses equal to 20 percent of the total number of liquor licenses in town.

Sadwick said that Police Chief Ryan Columbus inquired among other communities with licensed dispensaries, noting that businesses tended to carefully adhere to regulations to avoid losing licenses. He added that businesses would be required to come before the Select Board annually to renew their licenses.

The town could accommodate two or three retail locations; Sadwick noted that the town received double that many inquiries from interested businesses. The issue is slated to be taken up at a special Town Meeting in October.

The next meeting is scheduled for Aug. 22, 2022. Residents may find previously recorded meetings at youtube.com/TewksburyTV. The meeting may be viewed on Comcast channel 99 and Verizon channel 33 or attend in person at the town hall.

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