Planning Board Discusses Marijuana Retail | New

TEWKSBURY — The Tewksbury Planning Council convened on July 18, 2022 for a nearly four-hour meeting at Tewksbury Town Hall. Member Eric Ryder was not present.

In his report, city planner Alex Lowder said arancini makers Brelundi are moving forward with plans to take over the old Mirabella bakery. The company is undergoing reviews with the fire department and building commissioner, and will demolish a house on the lot to expand the parking lot after approval.

Lowder also reported that the former Discount Madness site at 1325 Main Street is being cleaned up at the council’s request while construction is halted. Additionally, Tree House Brewing Company is being reviewed with the fire and building departments to create a refrigerated order pick-up station in the old show building at 1880 Main Street. The company’s goal is to begin beer retailing in the fall, before converting the country club into a craft beer operation next year.

Lowder reported that the city recently received a $193,000 Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) grant to conduct a citywide flood survey of residents and to research potential solutions to flooding issues.

Finally, the vacant lot at 2131 Main Street, across from Boudreau Auto, is set to begin construction on a multi-family townhouse development; council had previously expressed dissatisfaction with the condition of the lot.

Lowder added that with the recent resignation of member Eric Ryder, the board will meet with the board to choose an interim replacement to fill the seat until spring municipal elections in 2023 to complete Ryder’s term. Since the council now has only four members, any special permits submitted to the council requiring supermajority approval will require all four members to vote for the permit; permits cannot be considered if less than the remaining four members attend the meeting.

The council discussed retail marijuana with Deputy City Manager Steve Sadwick. After conducting research, Sadwick recommended that the city adopt a license-only model in which the Select Board would serve as the special licensing authority; the city may issue a number of retail marijuana licenses equal to 20% of the total number of liquor licenses in the city.

Sadwick said Police Chief Ryan Columbus has checked with other communities with licensed dispensaries, noting that businesses tend to follow regulations closely to avoid losing their licenses. He added that companies would be required to appear before the Select Board every year to renew their licenses.

The city could accommodate two or three retail outlets; Sadwick noted that the city had received twice as many inquiries from interested companies. The issue is expected to be addressed at a special town meeting in October.

The next meeting is scheduled for August 22, 2022. Residents can find previously recorded meetings at youtube.com/TewksburyTV. The meeting can be viewed on Comcast Channel 99 and Verizon Channel 33 or attend in person at City Hall.