Tisbury selectmen pause on medical marijuana dispensary request

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Michael Cummo

Boston-based attorney Valerio Romano, representing Ermont Inc., went before Tisbury selectmen Tuesday to seek a letter of non-opposition to a medical marijuana dispensary as part of the state application process. The company, which received a provisional license to dispense medical marijuana from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health in January 2014, proposed utilizing the red barn property on 294 State Road in Tisbury, current home to the Vineyard Grocer. Mr. Romano said they had spoken with the owners of the building, who were “amenable” to selling.

The letter of non-opposition would be provided to the state as part of the application process in order to obtain provisional registration in the town.

Mr. Romano said the dispensary is projected to serve about 2 percent of the Island population year-round, with ebbs and flows depending on the season. He said it could provide about 20 jobs, also dependent on the time of year, with preference given to Island residents. The Massachusetts-based nonprofit is currently constructing another dispensary in Quincy.

“We don’t expect this to be some huge cash cow, and that’s certainly not why anybody’s in it,” Mr. Romano said. “It’s really about the patients of the commonwealth, and that’s how it has been since day one.”

Town administrator Jay Grande said he had not yet received anything indicating the proposed property meets certain zoning requirements outlined in the town bylaw, which was put in place after the last round of dispensary applications in 2013. The property is, however, within the acceptable zone for a medical marijuana dispensary in the town.

After a lengthy discussion regarding revenue and the potential stigma of a dispensary, the board agreed more information was necessary before moving forward with a letter of non-opposition.

“There’s two things that would be very helpful; a letter from you about what the impact of this letter is, and the process as asked by the board,” Mr. Grande said. “And I would think with the bylaw that you would show in writing the basic conformance, whatever you could do to demonstrate due diligence that you looked at the zoning and the property and believe it’s going to be workable.”

In a telephone call Wednesday, Elio Silva, owner of Vineyard Grocer, said he knew the property was for sale but had not been notified of Ermont, Inc.’s interest. Mr. Silva said he is hoping to buy the building, and has been negotiating with the owner for the past year.

Stop and go

In other business, selectmen again discussed the removal of the stop sign in front of the Tisbury library at the intersection of Greenwood Avenue and Main Street heading toward West Chop. In a prior meeting, selectman Larry Gomez said the stop sign was only working about 25 percent of the time, and that many people disregard it.

Mr. Grande said he reached out to Amy Ryan, Tisbury library director, who reproduced the email originally written from the library trustees expressing their desire for a stop sign back in 2012. He said it was his understanding that their position has not changed.

Mr. Gomez said he still sees people going through the stop sign, and hasn’t seen any buses dropping people off there. He also cited a story published in The Times (Oct. 24, 2012, “Tisbury officials say public concern, not data prompted stop signs”) that quoted the Massachusetts Department of Transportation “Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices and the standard municipal traffic code,” section 10A-4, which states “the purpose of the Stop Sign is to designate right-of-way to vehicles making conflicting movements” and “is not intended, nor shall it be used for the control of speed, traffic calming, or to forestall pedestrian, rear-end, or turning movement accidents.”

“Various people were talking to me about it, and that’s why I put it on the agenda for open discussion,” Mr. Gomez said. “So that’s what I’ve done. If the board still elects to continue with the sign the way it is, so be it.”

The board agreed to wait until September to meet with the library board before taking any action.

Selectmen met with the Land Bank Advisory Board and Ben Robinson and Cheryl Doble of the Tisbury planning board to discuss prioritizing land parcels in the town. Mr. Grande said Vineyard Haven is the most developed community on the Island, with the least amount of public waterfront access. The group discussed looking at Land Bank policies to see if “combinations can be made to address Tisbury priorities,” Mr. Grande said. They agreed to hold a larger meeting in September to address the priority parcels.

The selectmen accepted a gift of $10,000 for Owen Park improvements from Paul Doherty and David Behnke, who live across the street from the park. Selectmen Melinda Loberg said the two recognize that the park is in “less than ideal condition,” and they’ve taken a personal interest in improving the area. The board expressed their appreciation for the gift and Mr. Dougherty’s and Mr. Behnke’s efforts.

“Mr. Dougherty called, and he agreed that we need to do a survey of the property, and would like to have a site visit with the public works, the harbormaster, and myself, and then go to the board of public works and come up with an implementation strategy,” Mr. Grande said.

The board put off approving the annual Firefighters’ Association Car Show, on Main Street on Sept. 6 from 12 to 4 pm. Chairman Tristan Israel said there has been concern from store owners on Main Street in the past that the event is disruptive to business. The selectmen voted to put off approving the event until next week in order to allow time for Main Street business owners to give input.

Selectmen approved a transient vendor’s license application from Maureen Puia for her new shop, Alcove Jewelry, on 13 Beach Road Extension, an area becoming well-known for handmade clothing, jewelry, and other items. 

Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled the last name of Paul Doherty as Dougherty.