The pot thickens in Vineyard Haven

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Updated 3 pm

Main Street Medicinals is looking to open a medical and adult-use marijuana shop in Vineyard Haven, cultivate weed at that site, and distribute some of what it grows out of a second location on-Island, not yet picked. Silver Therapeutics, a company operating marijuana retail outlets in Williamstown and Orange, is consulting on the project. 

Josh Silver of Silver Therapeutics met with the Tisbury board of selectmen informally Tuesday to discuss a location he’s looking at for his business at 65 Mechanic’s St. Noah Eisendrath, a seasonal West Tisbury resident who owns two restaurants and bars off-Island, would manage the Tisbury location.

“This town will receive revenue not only from the retail point of sale, but also from the cultivation materials we sell in other dispensaries on the Island,” Silver said. “This is really going to be the hub for everything we do on the Island. We think the town will see some benefit from that.”

Silver’s proposal is the second one to come before the board of selectmen. Geoff Rose, who has a medical marijuana dispensary and cultivation site in West Tisbury, went before Tisbury selectmen in June for a site at the Woodland Center, which got significant pushback from the community because of its proximity to a dance studio. Selectmen have asked Rose to look at a different location. Town administrator Jay Grande said Rose has not proposed an alternative location.

Reached by phone Wednesday, Rose said he’s aware of the second proposal, and is looking for a location the town will find more suitable. “I’m in the process of looking,” he said.

After the meeting, Silver told The Times he’s aware of Rose’s proposal. If Rose were to get a license first, that would not necessarily be an end to his efforts. “We would still go forward,” he said. “We think there’s room enough for two, but that’s up to the board.”

Rose agreed. “I’ve got to continue to move forward and do what I need to do,” he said. “I’ve got a cultivation site that I’m planning to most likely look to expand for adult-use. I’m continuing to move forward with that plan.”

As for the medical marijuana dispensary in West Tisbury, Rose said he’s asked for a final state inspection, and is waiting for that to happen. It has not been scheduled, he said.

During the meeting, Silver told the board he would like to begin talks about a host-community agreement, a requirement in the state law that’s needed before he can seek an application for what the state Cannabis Control Commission refers to as “adult-use” marijuana. Towns receive 3 percent of the gross revenues from a marijuana facility, but the agreement also determines what type of support the business will provide to nonprofits and other philanthropic organizations, among other things.

Because of the issues with transporting marijuana to the Island over federal waters, Silver said, he intends to have a testing laboratory onsite.

The property is located off State Road, and there are two tenants in the building. “This appeared to us to be an ideal property,” he said, noting how far it is set back off State Road. The closest business that attracts children is Island Mini Golf. “We’re well outside the buffer zone there,” he said.

The business would require a special permit through the planning board, but Silver said he can’t apply for that until he has a license through the state. He agreed to hold a public hearing about the host-community agreement, a contract that spells out how much the town will be paid, once more details are worked out about the proposal. “We’ll come back with a more formalized study,” he said, which will include a traffic study.

There is an existing building that is 2,800 square feet. “There’s a lot of work to do, but the plan is to do everything in this building,” Silver said.

When Silver talked about the processing that will take place to make edibles and oils, selectmen chair Melinda Loberg asked about potential environmental consequences.

Silver said all of the laboratory waste is collected and disposed of without going into the groundwater onsite.

Loberg suggested a site visit, and Silver said he would likely have a more refined proposal in about six weeks.

Dredging, natural resources, and oysters

Selectmen got their first look at a proposed contract with Woods Hole Group to provide comprehensive permitting assistance for dredging Vineyard Haven Harbor and Lake Tashmoo.

Leslie Fields, a coastal engineer with Woods Hole Group, shared a document with the board that shows project management, investigations, permitting, grant applications, construction oversight, and other details the company will provide for $216,450.

Selectmen want the contract to be reviewed by counsel before making a decision.

The proposal calls for dredging the back channel, north groin, Tashmoo Channel, and Lake Street pier, Fields said. The spoils will be placed at Grove Avenue, Owen Little Way, Tashmoo Town Beach, Western Harbor, and, possibly, Eastville, she said.

Woods Hole Group would team with Vineyard Land Surveying to cut down on the number of ferry runs to the Island, Fields said.

Harbormaster John Crocker said the town has all the necessary permits for Tashmoo. Permits for the harbor will need to be obtained. The ultimate goal is to get a comprehensive permit for all dredging that will make it easier to manage, he said.

Selectman Jim Rogers urged Fields to consult with local boaters and fishermen to get the background of what’s needed.

In a related vote earlier in the meeting, selectmen voted in the first new members of a natural resources committee, which takes the place of several committees, including shellfish and harbor management. The move by selectmen has been controversial, as some see it as putting too much authority in one handpicked board. James Hale, Michael Baptiste, James Tilton, and Matthew Hobart were added to the board.

Rogers was disappointed other committee members weren’t considered. Loberg said the four names were put forward after receiving independent input from all three of the selectmen. Each of them had those four names on the list. Other potential members will be considered, possibly at a meeting next Wednesday.

A public hearing was held on aquaculture regulations. The board did not make a decision after some considerable discussion, and left the public comment period in writing open until the board’s August 27 meeting.

One of the things selectmen balked at was the $25 per year fee for one acre to propagate shellfish. “You can set up a business for $25 per year,” Loberg said.

Rogers added that the fee wouldn’t even pay for a tank of gas for shellfish constable Danielle Ewart to patrol.

But Noah Mayrand, who works on oyster farms in Edgartown and Chilmark, said enforcement on oysters is done by the state Environmental Police. He said $25 is what Edgartown charges. There are other benefits besides money to the town, Mayrand said. “We’re creating a lot of free clean water for the town,” he said, noting that oysters filter contaminants from the water. 

Ewart agreed that $25 is too low of a fee. If someone is making a profit on town waters, it should be reflected in the fees, she said.

“That’s taxation without representation,” Mayrand said.

Selectmen said they would like to see Ewart map out areas where aquaculture might take place, similar to the zones that Edgartown has laid out.

“We need to develop a map before we instigate this program,” Loberg said.

Rogers said input from commercial fishermen is key so as not to constrain their ability to fish.

“This is the best thing that’s come to Tisbury waterways in a lot of years,” Jeffery Canha, a commercial fisherman, said.

Mayrand said Vineyard Harbor is desolate now when it comes to shellfish, because of all the silt kicked up by boats. “If you say you’re a commercial shellfisherman, they laugh at you. It’s not like Edgartown. It’s not like Chilmark. They’re proud. I want to be proud of this town.”

Farewell to Barwick

The board opened its meeting paying tribute to building inspector Ken Barwick, who is retiring after 34 years with the town. In recent years, Barwick has been embroiled in controversy — first for allowing Santander Bank to replace clay tiles with asphalt shingles on its historic Vineyard Haven location, and then for not referring the Mill House, a pre–Revolutionary War house that wound up getting demolished before being reviewed by the Martha’s Vineyard Commission.

Barwick was not reappointed as of July 1 when many of the other year-to-year town appointments were made. He met with Grande and Loberg privately last month before his retirement was announced.

But on Tuesday it was all about praising his overall body of work. “Nothing has been built or remodeled in the town for the last 30 years that Ken Barwick hasn’t reviewed the plans for, coordinated the inspections for, inspected himself, and given a certificate of occupancy,” Loberg said. “If you live in a house here, you probably have met Ken. And, chances are, your dog will energetically and enthusiastically greet him when he arrives. Ken loves dogs, and regularly brings them bones.”

Loberg ticked off a litany of projects Barwick was involved in overseeing for the town. “He has demonstrated tremendous care and love for this community,” she said. “And his love of Tisbury is enthusiastically returned by the contractors and builders who have sought his services, as well as the many residents whose projects have undergone his review, reviews often made better from his timely input.”

In other business, the board approved regulations for Main Street banners. After some discussion that included public input objecting to commercial entities being allowed to rent the banner space for $250 per week, the board voted unanimously to only allow town events to be publicized by banners — for free.

Grande told the board that a more extensive review of potential lead at Tisbury School is being done on August 20. The school is also being tested for asbestos, after a state Department of Public Health air quality analysis raised serious questions. Selectmen and the school committee are hoping to convene before the start of school in September to come up with a game plan.

“Let’s get the testing done and see where it points us,” Loberg said.

The school building committee is working toward hiring an owner’s project manager to oversee long-term renovation of the school, Grande said.

The board unanimously approved sending a letter to the Steamship Authority brass at the urging SSA board member Marc Hanover and port council representative George Balco. The letter will urge the SSA not to eliminate 5:30 am freight boats to and from the Vineyard. Those boats are key in reducing traffic in the summer and getting people to medical appointments off-Island, Rogers said. Woods Hole residents have been lobbying for the end of early-morning crossings, citing noise.

2 COMMENTS

  1. About the Natural Resource Committee appointments, the appointees were selected by the Harbormaster with assistance from “staff” from names received from all Selectmen. The Chair made it clear that the Harbormaster, with assistance from “staff” selected the names of those he felt he could work closely with. Final decision of list of appointees was not made by the Selectmen. There was not the normal interview process and Both Selectman Rogers and Kristal were not happy with the way these names were appointed. There are 8 more members to be appointed. The Chair also stated that she has others she would like to appoint that have not even submitted letters of interest. The controversy continues.