Abington selectmen Monday night approved a Host Communty Agreement with a Brockton businessman looking to grow, manufacture, and sell adult-use marijuana in town.
Gary Leonard, president of Natural Agricultural Products, LLC, is looking to open up the operation at 1437 Bedford St., which until recently was an airsoft and laser tag businsess.
The agreement, which is required under state law, sets out a number of terms and conditions under which Natural Agricultural Products would operate, including hiring police to manage any traffic congestion, using high-tech odor control systems, and immediately reporting any inventory thefts to police.
It also says the town will receive 3 percent of all gross sales as a community impact fee, which can then be used to offset any municipal costs associated with the business, including inspectional services, public safety, substance abuse education and prevention programs, and infrastructure needs. The fee expires in five years, and it is not clear what happens if the town does not use all the money it collects. The agreement also states that the company will give Abington a $10,000 community benefit payment, which the town can use as it wishes, donate $5,000 to an Abington charity, and coordinate up to 50 hours of public education and awareness around substace abuse issues.
This funding is in addition to increased commercial real estate taxes and personal property excise taxes the operation will generate, as well as a 3 percent local sales tax levied on all sales within Abington. That sales tax applies to both retail and wholesale sales.
Leonard is now required to host a community meeting to discuss the project. The date for that meeting has not yet been set.
The operation also must undergo a public site plan review process with the Planning Board.
Abington already has Host Community Agreements in place with Bud’s Goods and Provisions, which is scheduled to open at 1540 Bedford Street in the coming weeks, and Green Harbor Dispensary, which is building a new retail shop at 1410 Bedford Street.
The agreement approved on Monday is the first awarded to an operation that includes cultivation and manufacturing components, in addition to retail shops. Bud’s and Green Harbor are exclusively retail shops. Leonard told Abington News earlier this week he already has contract to supply marijuana products to other dispensaries in the region.
Braintree-based NashMac, LLC, which helped sponsor the November 2020 Town Meeting article lifting the cap on the number of allowed marijuana operations in Abington, also wants to grow, manufacture, and sell out of a property at 678 Adams Street. Town Manager Scott Lambiase said town counsel is still ironing out some details of that proposal with NashMac president Michael Nashawaty.
Leonard appeared before selectmen Monday night to introduce himself. He said he has been in the commercial and indistrial real estate business for 49 years, and currently serves on the board of directors for 11 different non-profits in the area, incuding Brockton Hospital.
He said a visit to Boulder, Colorado, which has a more mature marijuana industry that includes multiple dispensaries and other operations in the city’s downtown, really opened his eyes to the economic development piece of the business.
Leonard told selectmen he originally hoped to open his business at 53 Spark Street in Brockton, the site of a former shoe factory, but progress has stalled. A business connection referred him to the Bedford Street location.
“I’m 67 years old this wil be my last hurrah,” he said. “I’ve made a lot of developments and a lot of good choices in life and Abington is my best choice at this time.”
Leonard already holds state permits for the cultivation and manufacturing operations and has an application in for the retail piece.
Selectman Alex Bezanson recused himself from the discussion and vote. Bezanson told Abington News a business partner of his originally applied to open a marijuana operation at the Bedford Street site, but recently transferred the application to Leonard. Bezanson said at no time did he have a financial stake in the project and made sure not to discuss the project with anyone at Town Hall.
[DISCLOSURE: The author is a member of the Planning Board]