Adult Use Marijuana

9/17 - The Town of Billerica has entered into a HCA agreement with Community Care Collective. Our decision making process is outlined below. For more on the company you can click here!

INTRODUCTION: 

The purpose of this memo is to summarize the process used to evaluate and recommend potential Adult Use Marijuana Establishment as defined in the “Guidance for Marijuana Establishments in Billerica” that was presented to you at the 3/4/2019 Board of Selectmen Meeting.

The Town Review Team recommends proceeding with a Host Community Agreement with Community Care Collective. The business terms and payments to the Town are as follows:

  • 3% of gross sales with a minimum of $535,000. - Host Community Agreement Impact Fee.
  • 3% of local sales tax – Article 30, Fall 2018 Town Meeting.
  • An additional 3% of gross sales to be paid out at 18 months, 33 months, and then to coincide with the yearly Host Community Agreement Impact Fee payment.

Gross sales are anticipated to be in the $20,000,000 - $30,000,000 range. This would result in an estimated additional $1,800,000 - $2,700,000 + tax revenue for the Town.

PROCESS BACKGROUND

The process for the review of proposers was laid out in the Guidance Document presented to the Board on 3/4/2019. The Town asked that all previously interested parties submit a full application by the 5/1/2019 deadline.

The Town received five responses, but only three met the qualifications to move forward in the process. Those three companies were Community Care Collective, BB Botanics, and Pure Industries. The next step was for the three applicants to have a meeting in front of a larger group of Department Heads and for the Town Review Team to start the process of choosing the best company or companies for the Town of Billerica.

Once the initial meetings had concluded, the Town scheduled the Community Outreach Meetings. These meetings took place on June 5th and were also televised live on BATV. Very few public comments were directed to the Town after the meetings.

After the Community Outreach Meetings took place a final meeting was scheduled with all the applicants and the full Town Review Team and other department heads to keep them informed on the situation.

The Town Review Team Consisted of:

  • John Curran, Town Manager
  • Cathy O’Dea, Assistant Town Manager
  • Clancy Main, Management Analyst
  • Dan Rosa, Police Chief
  • Mark LaLumiere, Building Commissioner
  • Chris Reily, Planning Director
  • Mike Higgins, Substance Abuse Director
  • Rob Anderson, Community Development Director
  • Rich Berube, Director of the Board of Health
  • Kim Conway, Selectmen

After the conclusion of these meetings the Town Review Team decided to negotiate host community agreements with two companies. Ultimately the Town Review Team is recommending a single company for execution of a host community agreement--Community Care Collective.

RECOMMENDATIONS

The Town Review Team recommendations were based on a holistic evaluation of the potential operator’s submittal, Community Outreach Meeting, and the two town review team meetings. A non-exhaustive list included location, experience, consistency with community values, education material, economic value, experience, and uniqueness of proposal, as well as compliance with the Town’s zoning requirements for the establishment. 

Experience:

All companies met the Town Review Team’s expectations for experience. BB Botanics brought in multiple people who have worked in the Colorado market. Pure Industries has experience in the Colorado market and in other regulated businesses. Community Care Collective has a partnership with Sanctuary Medicinals, a current operator in Massachusetts with multiple dispensaries and cultivation centers throughout the country. 

Location:

Only one location (Community Care Collective) met the required separation distance from a location where children commonly congregate of 500 feet, as required in the Town’s zoning bylaw. All three applicants had ample parking spaces ranging from 48 – 100+. Community Care Collectives’ location was preferred by the Town Review Team for multiple reasons. That location currently is a vacant site that will be rejuvenated by the construction and new building. It is also the entrance way to a dilapidated area, which the Town is interested in seeing rehabilitated. The investment in this location, and the resulting increased traffic at the front of the street, is anticipated to bring higher and better uses to the area.

Economic Value:

All three companies would bring in similar revenue to the Town based on their expectations of the adult use marijuana market. BB Botanics had also proposed a cultivation facility that would have brought additional revenue to the Town, but would have resulted in additional impacts. The cultivation facility would have come at a later date according to their submission.

Uniqueness of Proposal:

All three companies had proposals unique from one another.  The Town was shown renderings of the inside from two companies (Community Care Collective, Pure Industries) and a very upscale look was presented. Community Care Collective will have a prefabricated building built off site that lacks some of the aesthetics of the other two proposals; however the proposal shows a high-end interior design. All three companies will have similar products including flower, vapes, edibles, etc. All three plan to hire Billerica residents and indicated their intention to be strong partners within the community.

Security:

Police Chief, Dan Rosa felt that Community Care Collective was by far the clear front runner in regards to security. He felt most comfortable with the approach, team, and building that were proposed. Chief Rosa was also impressed after touring the Sanctuary Medicinal Cultivation site. The security on this site was overseen by former Rochester NH, Police Chief Michael Allen. Mr Allen will be overseeing the security portion of Community Care Collective. He has also directed the security operations on several other dispensaries. Not only that, he served as the Police Chief when a cultivation site was opened in Rochester, NH. Mr. Allen has a unique perspective that no other security operation was able to provide.

As stated above, Community Care Collective had an expert on staff throughout the planning process. Mr. Allen demonstrated to the Town that he saw security not only from the proponent’s view, but also through the eyes of the municipality. Community Care Collective took into account the security and environmental design from the ground up. Window placement in the building was placed high to provide plenty of natural light while not allowing an interior view from outside the building. Crowd control and queuing issues were addressed in the design of the building, which has been a concern at other sites around Massachusetts. Community Care Collective was well versed on the Cannabis Control Commission’s security regulations and was proactive in addressing transportation, product handling, money transfers, and other important security aspects at the outset. They also did not need to be prompted to find an expert and present answers midway through the process. Community Care Collective understood from the start how important security and traffic concerns would be to the Town and had plans ready unlike the other proponents. The other potential operators lacked the depth and experience needed to assure the Town that security was a top priority. They also treated security as an afterthought.

Town Review Team Meetings / Community Outreach Meeting:

In the initial meeting only Community Care Collective was fully prepared. They had a full security plan, renderings, economic outlook, site plans, and had all of their team present to answer any questions that we may have had. As time went on and questions were asked more and more detail was given to the Town on their plans. The Town felt that only one company was fully prepared to go into this market immediately after all three meetings.

Pure Industries at the start of the process had some information concerning their operations, but not all of it had been fully fleshed out. As time went on they began to dig deeper into the details requested by the Town Review Committee. As the meetings progressed the Town Review Committee felt that Pure Industries would likely have been capable of working out operational details prior to entering the market despite having not fully formulated their operational plans prior to commencing the Town’s review process..

The Town had grave concerns after the first meeting with BB Botanics. They were clearly unprepared and were unaware of the level of detail the Town would be requiring. They lacked professionalism and were reminiscent of failed medical marijuana applicants. As the meetings progressed they brought in consultants to help answer many of the questions. Though very knowledgeable on the products and process of cultivation, the ability of BB Botanics to run a business in a highly regulated market was a significant concern for the Town Review Committee. BB Botanics focused most of their presentations on cultivation of the product and not the business practices that they would implement. The first impression left us with a feeling of uneasiness and a belief that they were not ready to run something so scrutinized as a highly regulated marijuana establishment.  

Compliance with Zoning Requirements:

Section 5, Regulation of Uses, Buildings, and Structures, of the Town’s Zoning Bylaws, requires in Subsection 5.E.9, Adult Use Marijuana Overlay District, that marijuana establishments may not be located within 500 feet of listed facilities, including those in which minors commonly congregate.  This is a significant Town interest regarding the siting of facilities, hence its inclusion in the Town’s zoning bylaw as approved by Town Meeting.   BB Botanics’ proposal would not meet this requirement because they were within 500 feet of a place where children commonly congregate.  Pure Industries’ proposal would not meet this requirement because they were within 500 feet of a place where children commonly congregate. Community Care Collective’s proposal places its facility outside the specified 500 foot buffer and so addresses this significant interest of the Town.

Overall Impression:

The Town felt that both Pure Industries and Community Care Collective could be able to run an efficient, effective, and problem free business in the Town of Billerica. Both companies were invited to negotiate terms of an HCA with the Town. After deliberation on the above items and the HCA process it was felt that an agreement with Community Care Collective would be in the best interest of the Town of Billerica.

The Town made their choice based on all the above criteria and in consideration of Community Care Collective’s overall business practices, experience, location and security plan.

Community Care Collective was also the only company to be over 500 feet away from a place where children commonly congregate. Both of the other proposers would require variances from Planning Board.  The uncertainty of the variance process, and the anticipated impacts upon the Town that would arise should a HCA be approved, weighed heavily in making a final decision in this matter.  The concern regarding the variance, combined with the Town’s lack of institutional knowledge on granting waivers in these cases, resulted in a determination that Community Care Collective provided the most favorable proposal for the Town.  In light of the failure of Pure Industries’ proposal to comply with the zoning requirement, the Town Review Team is unable to recommend proceeding with consideration of the Pure Industries proposal.