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Town Administrator Sean Fitzgerald signed a host community agreement for the town’s first retail marijuana shop, Terpene Journey LLC, in late May, but its grand opening will likely not occur until 2021.
The 14-page document, agreed-upon terms for Terpene Journey to operate in Swampscott, does not go into effect unless the state’s Cannabis Control Commission issues the company a retail marijuana license.
The startup’s executives and owners Tom Bogacz and Justin Eppley said their application sits before the regulatory body. The pair specifically desire to open and operate a licensed retail marijuana establishment at 430 Paradise Road for the retail sale of adult-use marijuana.
Custom Eye Care formerly occupied the 1,411-square-foot storefront, tucked between Gourmet Garden and Domino’s Pizza in the Swampscott Mall of Vinnin Square.
Terpene Journey must crossed off state-mandated to-do items before submitting a formal application:
Conduct a community outreach meeting six months prior to submission of a license application
Certify compliance with local zoning, including buffer zone requirements
Enter into a host community agreement
“We executed the host-community agreement with the town on May 28 and then submitted our application to the CCC,” said Bogacz, the company’s chief executive officer, to the Swampscott Reporter. “The next milestone will be for the CCC to certify our application complete, meaning we have satisfied all of their requests for additional information about the project.”
He added, “Once they issue a provisional certification, they will review the architectural plans for compliance.”
With provisional certification, Bogacz said they will execute a build out and commence sales after undergoing and passage of various inspections.
“It’s impossible to know exactly how long the whole process will take but we’re targeting to open in the first quarter of 2021,” said Bogacz. “We’ve heard from others that lately the CCC has been processing applications pretty quickly, so we’re optimistic that momentum will help get us to the goal line.”
The host community agreement lays out monetary penalties when community-impact fees are late, working with the Swampscott Police Department, implementing a diversion program and security plan, conducting annual financial reporting and managing cannabis odors and traffic and parking.
Community impact fee
Swampscott would capture three percent of Terpene’s annual gross revenues over a five-year term. The latter is a so-called community impact fee that would be assessed on Terpene Journey for its use of the town’s infrastructure and services.
“The town is under no obligation to use the community impact fee in any particular manner and may expend…[it] for any proper public purpose,” reads the host community agreement. “[The town and Terpene Journey] shall meet a minimum of 90 days prior to the expiration of the initial five-year term for purposes of engaging in a good-faith negotiation of a new annual community impact fee as an amendment to this agreement.”
If the two parties cannot reach a successor community impact fee, the 3 percent stands until they do. The impact fee is a separate obligation from a three percent excise sales tax on cannabis that Swampscott Town Meeting approved in 2019.
Swampscott Director of Community and Economic Development Marzie Galazka said the town awaits news from the CCC.
“We are anxiously waiting to find out if the state is going to grant the provisional certification,” she said. “[Terpene Journey owners] have been great to work with, and you know, we’re excited about the fact that they are local residents who are owners. It’s really nice to work with somebody that lives in town that is committed to the betterment of the town. So we’re excited about that.”
Investing in Swampscott
Terpene Journey will be required to make a monetary contribution of no less than $25,000 annually to be split in equal parts among selectmen-designated Swampscott charities/nonprofits.
Under the agreed-upon terms, the initial contribution would start out at $25,000 and incrementally increase three percent every year. The host community agreement currently lists The Friends of Swampscott Public Library, The Friends of Swampscott Senior Center, Swampscott Cultural Council, ReachArts and Anchor Food Pantry as the annual contribution’s beneficiaries. Each would receive an $5,000 check from the initial $25,000 donation.
Meanwhile, the agreement states Terpene Journey “will make every effort” to employ and/or contract with Swampscott vendors and residents whenever possible.
It also mandates Terpene Journey establish a regular forum that convenes every six months to facilitate an ongoing dialogue with and feedback from neighboring residents and businesses.