Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Woonsocket North Smithfield 11-15-2018

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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14 BLACKSTONE NOVEMBER 15-21, 2018 | VALLEY BREEZE | NORTH SMITHFIELD BLACKSTONE WOONSOCKET EDITION state Cannabis Control Commission as well as a host community agree- ment approved by the Board of Selectmen before they could begin operations. Representatives of both applications appeared before the Board of Selectman last week to discuss their plans and the licensing process ahead. Kalra told board members he plans to undertake renovations of the building to increase the square footage available for the proposed business, as well as additional secu- rity features to protect the business and its customers. The product, he said, would be stored in a second- floor vault accessible by only one employee to prevent theft and break- ins, while an alarm system would connect directly to the Blackstone Police Department. The building's doors would remain locked 24 hours each day, and customers would be screened before gaining access to the building. "It protects us as a town, as individ- uals, from having eyes from people who are going to break in," he said. Kalra plans to move forward with the approval process next week, host- ing a state-mandated community out- reach meeting at Blackstone Public Library on Monday, Nov. 19 from 5 to 6 p.m. According to Kalra and his attorney, David Rogers, abutters and other residents will have the oppor- tunity to ask questions about the pro- posed business. Rogers also indicated his client was open to feedback from the board as the two groups work to develop a host community agree- ment. "We want to do what's in the best interest of the town, so whatever ideas, comments, suggestions, just let us know," said Rogers. If the project receives the green light from the board, it will still be several months before the town sees its first legal retail sales of marijuana. As town attorney Patrick Costello explained, proposed dispensaries must undergo a complicated, multi- step state licensing process that includes details such as security, inventory procedures and licensing of employees. After hosting a com- munity outreach meeting and signing a host community agreement with the local municipality, businesses must submit an application to the Cannabis Control Commission and undergo a physical inspection before obtaining final approval. The process is new and difficult to predict, but Rogers estimated it could be three to six months before his client receives state licensing. Elsewhere in the state, businesses have expressed frustration with the slow pace at which the state has approached retail sales. Last week, the Cannabis Control Commission gave final approval to the state's first two labs for testing recreational marijuana, a required step in the production process. Meanwhile, towns throughout Massachusetts are fielding proposals from potential pot sellers as the state's first retail store prepares to open its doors in Northampton. "Things are starting to happen now, but I would suggest that many municipalities are in the same situ- ation as Blackstone is in now with these matters being presented for the first time," said Costello. Costello told board members he had prepared a draft of a community host agreement. As the town's only legal authority over the approval pro- cess, the agreement addresses topics such as public safety concerns and terms of financial compensation. In Blackstone, those terms will include a 3 percent community impact fee to mitigate costs related to public safety in addition to a 3 percent local sales tax. Residents approved the sales tax at the annual town meeting in May. Board members heard a second proposal from Attorney Christopher Ryan on behalf of Vishnubhai and Rekhaben Patel, owners of DDM Sales. The Patels are currently leasing the building occupied by Diamond Overhead Door at 1 Lloyd Street behind the Bellingham Stop & Shop and plan to renovate it for use as a retail dispensary. If approved, Diamond Overhead Door would vacate the site and DDM Sales would begin operating out of the 4,000-square-foot space. "If everything works out, it's going to go directly from garage door sales to cannabis sales," said Ryan. Before moving forward, Ryan told board members, the owners need to work out a few zoning complica- tions. While the area is officially zoned residential, the storefront has long been used for retail purposes, home to Bell Liquors and a religious card store at different points in time. Ryan told The Breeze the business would likely be "grandfathered" in as a pre-existing use under the town's zoning policy and added the owners hope to install additional security features in the building, including an indoor delivery bay. His clients, he said, prefer to wait until they've finalized a community host agree- ment before organizing a community outreach meeting, likely in January or February. "This is a totally new business for them, which is why they're trying to approach this methodically and try- ing to do it right," he said. A building at 202 Main St., far left, currently home to the FAMILY GROCER, and a building at 1 Lloyd St., left, currently home to DIAMOND OVERHEAD DOOR, are two proposed sites for retail marijuana stores in Blackstone. 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