Pot cultivation facility would be Blackstone’s first

Pot cultivation facility would be Blackstone’s first

Green Choice Dispensaries is looking to move into 114 Main St. (Breeze photo by Lauren Clem)

BLACKSTONE – Another retail marijuana dispensary – and the town’s first grow facility – is looking to move into 114 Main St., the same building that houses Casa Burrito and Richdale Food Shops.

Mike Grenier, owner of Green Choice Dispensaries, and his lawyer, Charles Reid, appeared before the Board of Selectmen to discuss their plans on July 21.

As part of the plan, the company would host both a cultivation facility that would sell marijuana to other businesses and a retail dispensary where customers could purchase it for recreational use.

According to Reid, the company plans to do extensive renovations to both the interior and exterior of the building. The rear part of the building, he said, was once home to a laser tag facility and has fallen into disrepair.

“It is in extreme disrepair. I’ll point out that all those floors have holes in them, the ceilings, the wiring needs to be ripped out. It will be a great benefit to see that building redone,” he said.

Customers, he said, will enter from the parking lot, which will have a security fence separating it from the parking for the other building’s other businesses. Customers will be expected to show ID when they enter through a security gate.

The facility will have about 15 employees at the start, with the possibility of additional employees later on. Reid said the company is committed to hiring female and veteran employees and has a hiring plan targeting 50 percent female employees, 50 percent veterans and 80 percent Blackstone residents.

“This is a small cultivation facility, we’re not anticipating hundreds of employees,” he said.

The company is seeking to secure a host community agreement with the town, the first step in the licensing process for the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission. Per state law, the town can seek up to 3 percent in local sales taxes from the facility in addition to a 3 percent community impact fee.

Reid said the company is prepared to give the town the maximum taxes allowed by state law as well as helping the town achieve some of its goals outside of the agreement.

One of the main obstacles to the facility is its location. The proposed building sits about 600 feet from the Blackstone Public Library, with direct routes between the buildings on both Main Street and Austin Street.

Reid acknowledged the buildings’ proximity and proposed a one-way traffic route intended to detour customers along Austin Street away from the library as they exit the parking lot.

Both Selectman Daniel Keefe and Selectwoman Mary Bulso raised concerns with that plan, pointing out it could make traffic worse on the narrow street. Bulso requested the company commission a formal traffic study before developing a plan with town officials.

Despite the proximity to the library, Reid said the proposal offered several benefits to the town. In addition to the tax revenue, the company is proposing installing a public cell phone charging station on the outside of the building. He also brought up the possibility of discounts for other town marijuana retailers, a significant benefit to those businesses in an industry where the average wholesale price is $1,500 per pound.

“We need more cultivators in the state. We’re prepared to do that,” he said.

The next step will be a community outreach meeting where residents can ask questions about the proposal. Reid said the company is considering using virtual options. Selectman Robert Kluchevitz also suggested holding the meeting in the Blackstone-Millville Regional High School parking lot, similar to how the annual town meeting took place in May.

Green Choice Dispensaries is the third marijuana business to propose a facility in Blackstone. Last spring, the town signed a community host agreement with DDM Sales, a dispensary looking to set up shop at 1 Lloyd St. That facility has been working its way through the state licensing process and has not yet opened.

Family Grocer owner Gurpreet Kalra proposed a third retail facility at 202 Main St., but later secured a host community agreement for a building across the street at 199 Main St. following concerns the first site was too close to the bike path and playground. The site recently received approval from the town Zoning Board and still needs final approval from the state.