Bolton hears plans for marijuana facility

| September 2, 2020

Sept. 2, 2020

By Ann Needle

          Bolton residents heard Monday night from a company looking to locate a multi-purpose marijuana facility in town.

          Nick Catt, CEO of Lovecraft of Massachusetts, Inc., told the approximately 25 residents attending the community outreach meeting at Slater’s that the company plans on setting up the marijuana facility at 58 Main St., site of the former Cobham Defense Systems and Atlantic Microwave. The proposed Marijuana Indoor Cultivator would include manufacturing and a research laboratory, as well as a retail facility (brick and mortar). Catt noted those functions would be developed over three phases.

          The Aug. 31 meeting was sponsored solely by Lovecraft, though Catt confirmed  he invited Town officials, who did not attend.

           Plans sketched out for the plant’s safety and access included security cameras and alarms, strict screening of employee backgrounds, and adhering to state marketing regulations for the industry. Catt also presented a traffic flow plan for easing entry to and exit from the facility, with buffers from nearby Bolton Woods Way, and possibly a widened road or separate access.

          Catt stressed that Lovecraft would be a community-oriented business emphasizing diversity and inclusion, offering competitive pay and full benefits. It would give priority for the available 20 to 100 jobs first to residents of nearby Bolton Woods Way, then to other Bolton residents, along with veterans.

          CFO Ross Bradshaw told the audience that, as owner of marijuana dispensary New Dia in Worcester, he hopes to bring a focus on community and hiring of the under-served to Lovecraft.

          Along with tax revenue, the host community agreement between Lovecraft and the Town could generate an annual community impact fee, to be negotiated with the Town. Catt said of this potential revenue, “You should be using it as a tool. Maybe your town needs a school, maybe you need a daycare center.”

          Last year, the Town got as far as executing an HCA for 58 Main St. with marijuana products manufacturer Integrative Health Products. The HCA called for Integrated to pay an annual community impact fee to the Town of $20,000. Catt remarked that Integrative likely pulled out of the agreement earlier this year due to the state’s new restrictions on vaping products.

          Catt acknowledged Lovecraft does not yet have a full facility operating elsewhere, though he is listed as a licensed real estate broker with minority partner shares in marijuana licenses being developed elsewhere in the state.

Resident Doubt

          Several meeting attendees voiced their admiration for Lovecraft’s community goals and Ross Bradshaw’s work. But most seemed wary of the plans.

          Most of the citizen remarks centered on Lovecraft’s plans for a brick-and-mortar dispensary/shop, given the facility’s planned location next to Bolton Woods families. One resident said, “I just can’t stomach a dispensary there.”

          Several audience members objected to a potential increase in traffic entering and exiting an already-busy Rte. 117. The dispensary’s presence will mean “people are going to turn in and out of that road – it’s going to be a nightmare,” said another resident.

          Catt replied the Town is requiring that Lovecraft hire an engineer to conduct a full traffic study in determining how to regulate vehicle flow. He also noted that the average retail marijuana transaction is only four to six minutes, with customers not known to linger, and that many customers now have the product delivered to their homes anyway.

          Asked why Lovecraft chose a parcel next to a family neighborhood —along with its proximity to a school bus stop — Catt responded that the only other location the Bolton Planning office identified as workable for the company, given Town and state regulations, was the site across Rte. 117 designated for Environmental Pools. He continually stressed that there are a number of ways to block off access between Bolton Woods and the Lovecraft facility, and that the bus stop could be moved.

          Other residents expressed doubts that what they described as a low water supply could support both Bolton Woods and Lovecraft, given Lovecraft is planning on growing marijuana.

          Another attendee remarked that, while they admired Lovecraft’s accent on employing the under-served, “If you look at the social/economic [makeup of Bolton], we’re just not the target.’

          Catt reported the next step in Lovecraft’s approval was to gather meeting feedback and present a more solid plan to the Board of Selectmen for approval, most likely at one of its two September meetings. The next BoS meeting is Sept. 10.

Category: NEWS

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