HANSON — Town Meeting may be asked to vote on a zoning bylaw amendment to the current cannabis bylaw to permit two different delivery options for customers outside of town. A two-third vote would be required at Town Meeting, with no ballot question needed.
The move could double the revenue the town is already going to see from the community impact agreement with manufacturing business Impressed LLC.
The Board of Selectmen voted 4-1, with Selectman Jim Hickey dissenting, on Tuesday, March 16, to approve referring the matter to the Planning Board for a hearing to determine whether they could come up with a zoning bylaw amendment for the Town Meeting.
Town Counsel Kate Feodoroff briefed Selectmen about a proposal to permit retain cannabis delivery to residents outside Hanson.
“Delivery has two components,” she said. “There are two separate licensures, now, from the [Cannabis Control Commission] CCC — one is called the Courier License and one is called the Delivery Operator License,” Feodoroff said. “The difference between those is very significant.”
She stressed the service is different than a marijuana retailer as defined in the regulations, because it is not a storefront business. A facility will be required for the delivery operator service, however, because drivers will have to wear body cameras and be tracked by GPS, among other security measures that will have to be monitored, as well as storing it in the facility at times.
Delivery Operator licenses are going to be rolling out soon from the CCC as they begin to accept applications at the beginning of April, according to Feodoroff.
“If you want to react to that and try to capture some of that market, now’s the time to do it,” she said. The option would avoid the prospect of a lot of brick-and-mortar retail traffic at the Impressed LLC site, because much of the business would be done online with professional delivery companies delivering the product.
The financial benefit to the town would be “much more significant” than for the manufacturing business alone.
Couriers are services that pick up marijuana orders from retailers for delivery to consumers at their house — providing only the transportation. Delivery operators can pick up marijuana from any cannabis establishment – cultivators, manufacturers and retailers — in any form, and can re-label the product as their own.
“They buy the marijuana, make it their own product, and deliver it and sell it to the consumer,” she explained. “If you were to allow it in Hanson, you would get both local retail sales tax — 3 percent — and in addition to the 3 percent the town will see from community impact fee payments. The courier is less of a significant business.”
Noting that Superintendent of Schools Jeffrey Szymaniak and “a good portion of the School Committee” was attending the virtual Board of Selectmen’s meeting over GoToMeeting, Selectmen Chairman Kenny Mitchell welcomed them to provide an overview of the budget process.
Szymaniak noted that the committee would be voting to certify a budget for fiscal 2022 at the next evening’s meeting.
“I’m looking for an increase of $2,252,341 — or a 4 percent increase — in the school budget,” Szymaniak said. “That’s what I call a Level Service-plus Budget.”
Level services are augmented by returning a science teacher that was cut in 2018-19 and focusing on intervention from learning regression during COVID, three more special education programs and more funds for Chromebooks and technological support for the devices, which have been leaned on heavily during COVID.
South Shore Tech Superintendent-Director Dr. Thomas J. Hickey also met with Selectmen to review a debt authorization article going before Town Meeting as well as the school’s fiscal 2022 budget, which is up by 1.89 percent, with Hanson’s share of $1,228,077 is going up $92,657 or by 8.167 percent. There are four more students attending the school this year, in addition to cost increases.
COVID relief ESSER II grant funding will allow towns to offset some of the minimum local contributions, and could reduce Hanson’s cost by about $24,000.
Selectmen also voted to designate Hanson as a Purple Heart Community at the urging of Veterans’ Agent Timothy White, and heard his recommendation for another low-key Memorial Day observance this year due to the continued concern over COVID-19.
White said he has been working with the Halifax VFW commander to learn more about the Purple Heart Community designation.
Rockland, where White also serves as Veterans’ Agent is also a Purple Heart Community, recognizing Aug. 7 — the date in 1782 when the decoration was established as the nation’s first honor for soldiers by George Washington — as Purple Heart Day.
A draft proclamation would be signed off on by Selectmen and forwarded to the Military Order of the Purple Heart, which would then present the town with an official proclamation.
Selectman Laura FitzGerald-Kemmett thanked White for his work and said the designation was “absolutely the right thing to do.”
White said he generally starts planning Memorial Day at least two months in advance.
“Last year was very difficult and this year is going to match last year in that difficult nature,” he said. “I’m not sure what the governor’s restrictions will be as we move forward … there’s information about variants and there’s still a lot of concern.”
Hanover has also announced they will not have a parade this year. Like Hanson did in 2020, Hanover will only conduct a simple ceremony for broadcast on Memorial Day.
Rockland’s Veterans’ Ally Council has also indicated that town will not have a parade, either.
“I was going to proceed with it in mind that, most likely, there’s not going to be a parade,” he said.
Mitchell said he would go along with whatever White decided.
“Whatever you think, and whatever you need from this board to support you, on anything you decide for Memorial Day is fine with me,” Mitchell said.
“You obviously don’t want to put a vulnerable population of veterans in harm’s way by trying to celebrate them,” FitzGerald-Kemmett said, noting last year’s ceremony was “quite lovely.”