GROTON — The town has taken another step toward recreational marijuana sales in town.
At their meeting on Jan. 10, the Select Board voted unanimously to enter into a Host Community Agreement (HCA) with both New England Craft Cultivators (NECC) and United Cultivation. The town had interviewed interested firms in early January.
“Both companies just seem to really know their stuff,” said Groton Town Manager Mark Haddad. “They really want to be here in Groton and I think they will be wonderful community members.”
NECC’s would be located in what is currently Craven’s Package Store near Groton’s Four Corners area. United Cultivation’s proposed location, in the town’s Mill Run Plaza, is subject to a zoning amendment tabbed for the spring Town Meeting due to its proximity to a local daycare.
Both companies must host a Community Outreach Meeting before finalizing their licensing with the Cannabis Control Commission (CCC). United Cultivation hosted its meeting on Feb. 9, while NECC’s has yet to be scheduled.
“The public has to come out and meet with them, then they can go to the CCC and start that process,” he said. “Our hope is that they will be open by next April.”
Prior to the unanimous vote, the Select Board put forth a motion that would have granted a third HCA to The Stories Company, one of the interested parties interviewed by the Board on Jan. 6. The motion was voted down with one in favor and four against.
Haddad said, given their prior experience, he and the Board felt more comfortable with United Cultivation and NECC – United Cultivation already has a location in Athol, while NECC has one Dracut with another planned for Pepperell.
“I think, the main reason, was the proven track record,” Haddad said. “From the Board’s perspective, they have these licenses in other locations, they have been through the process and know what to expect from the CCC.”
“Because of that type of experience, the Board was very comfortable going with them,” he said.
The Select Board also cited the proximity between locations proposed by NECC and The Stories Company – both would have been located near the Four Corners area – as another reason to approve two, rather than three, licenses.
“We want to avoid causing undue expense and hardship to either of those individuals,” said Select Board member Joshua Degen.
Member Alison Manugian said the proposal from The Stories Company seemed at more of a “conceptual level” compared to that of NECC and United Cultivation.
“They didn’t quite have the level of refinement I was hoping to see,” she said. “For me, it’s not a case of saving money, it’s a case of making sure we end up with the best final product.”
Haddad also said NECC’s and United Cultivation’s respective plans to ingratiate themselves into the Groton community played an important role.
“They also presented great packages on what they wanted to do with the community,” he said. “Working with the school district, the town; the Board was very, very pleased.”
So far, Haddad said both firms have been “highly cooperative” and that he has great hopes for their future in town.
“They have been outstanding,” he said. “I just want them to be good community partners and work with us and, so far, it’s just been a wonderful experience.”