A green wave in Abington?

Town Meeting approves more possible pot shops; could bring more tax dollars into town

Abington will soon be able to permit up to five retail marijuana operations under an updated zoning bylaw overwhelmingly approved by Town Meeting Tuesday night.

By a 70-8 vote, Town Meeting opted to lift the current cap, which allows for just two shops. Both of those available permits have already been issued, although neither yet have opened for business. 

Bud’s Provisions & Goods, which will be located at 1540 Bedford St., has started to build out its location with a goal of opening early next year. Green Harbor Dispensaries recently received permits to build its storefront at 1410 Bedford St.

The owner of a third company, NashMac, LLC, coordinated a petition to have the permitting increase included on the Special Town Meeting agenda. The Braintree-based company is interested in opening a multi-faceted operation that would include cultivation, manufacturing, delivery, and retail sales.

Tuesday night’s vote wasn’t on that specific project, but rather to give the town the option to issue additional permits if it chooses to. Because Abington voters back in 2017 supported a statewide ballot question legalizing adult use marijuana sales, the town was required to permit at least two retail shops. That figure is based on 20 percent of the number of liquor store licenses in town (there are 9). The Special Town Meeting vote increased that figure to 50 percent the number of liquor store licenses, or five.

Michael Nashawaty, the company’s CEO, who was given permission to speak on the floor of town meeting, said he had originally filed his retail application just days after the first two applicants filed theirs.

Abington stands to collect a 3 percent local sales tax fee from every purchase made at an Abington retail shop, plus another 3 percent of the gross revenue as an impact fee. A store with $1 million in sales would generate $60,000 in direct tax revenue for its host community. The stores permitted for Abington are aiming for $8 million in annual sales.

Nashawaty said the town would also collect tax revenue on any wholesale purchases made from his operation, in addition to retail sales.

A few residents argued that the vote should be delayed until a Town Meeting with a larger attendance. Their move to send the article to the Planning Board for further study was rejected.

Once Abington reopens the application process for new retail permits, business owners would still need to negotiate a community host agreement with the Board of Selectmen, host a community meeting on their proposal, and receive project permits from the Planning Board.

Because the town has already permitted two shops, it could reject a proposal it feels doesn’t benefit the community.

The author of this article is on the Abington Planning Board and spoke in favor of the article Tuesday night.

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