Updated March 3
Vineyard Haven is the second town on the Island to agree to host a Patient Centric marijuana facility, joining West Tisbury.
With Patient Centric CEO Geoff Rose and his attorney Phil Silverman in the audience Monday, selectmen heard the details of the host community agreement, which will pay the town a onetime fee of $10,000, 3 percent of gross revenues, and whatever the building generates in property taxes. Patient Centric has also agreed to put $20,000 in the affordable housing trust fund, and $2,500 will be donated to a nonprofit of the board’s choice for marijuana education. The town will also receive a separate 3 percent excise tax imposed by the state on marijuana facilities.
Under the agreement, which was negotiated with Rose by selectman Jeff Kristal and town administrator Jay Grande, Patient Centric agrees to work with the town on making Mechanic’s Street, where the facility is to be located, an approved public way.
The marijuana facility, proposed for 15 Mechanic’s St., is subject to approval by the Cannabis Control Commission and local permitting. The commission has been investigating Rose’s ties with Acreage Holdings, a national marijuana conglomerate that provided a loan to Patient Centric.
“Thank you,” Rose said quietly as selectmen took their unanimous vote. Then, after the vote, the board and Rose signed the agreement.
“This is a real milestone for our community,” chair Melinda Loberg said.
When selectman Jeff Kristal joked it was a “high point,” Loberg suggested Mechanic’s Street might be renamed “High Street,” a nod to the fact that the board is also in negotiations with a second company, Main Street Medicinals, led by Noah Eisendrath, which is interested in a facility at 65 Mechanic’s St.
In answer to questions by selectmen about a so-called “sunset” of the host-community agreements after five years, Jon Silverstein, the town’s attorney, explained that there is legislation under consideration that could change that. Regardless, Patient Centric would either have to make another agreement with the town or it could no longer legally operate in town, he said.
Plastic Free bylaw removed
In other business, the board went through the town’s special town meeting and annual town meeting warrants to finalize them for the March 31 opening night.
The board voted unanimously to remove a proposal by Plastic Free MV, which was approved last spring by three up-Island towns, to ban the sale of single-use drinks in plastic containers under 34 ounces. Instead, the board supported a separate article, similar to one talked about in Oak Bluffs, that would set up an action plan. Selectmen amended that article to say that it would come up with a bylaw to manage the reduction of plastic.
Loberg referred to it as “not as draconian” as the Plastic Free proposal.
“I think the issue is real, but what concerns me is hampering our business community,” selectman Jim Rogers said. Rogers had a 12-ounce Poland Spring water in a plastic bottle in front of him as he made that statement.
Kristal said the town needs to come up with a plan. “Everybody is going to bring it over on the boat anyway,” he said.
“It’s disheartening, to say the least,” Annemarie Ralph, a West Tisbury teacher who has helped members of Plastic Free MV bring their message to Island towns, wrote in an email. She added that she would be meeting with the students to plan next steps, but pointed out they have been meeting with selectmen for the past year.
During a phone conversation Tuesday, members of the Plastic Free MV organization expressed frustration and disappointment at the move. Selectmen were officially closing the warrant ahead of town meeting, essentially running out the clock on the students.
“They’re interrupting our democracy and not giving the voters a voice in what they want for our future,” Elliot Stead, one of the students, told The Times.
It’s particularly disappointing since Plastic Free MV has met with selectmen four times since last June, Emma Bena, another student, said. “It was rather sneaky of them,” she said.
Ralph said the students had ordered postcards, and were in the process of getting a mailing list for voters to send them.
Quinlan Slavin expressed concern that it could set a precedent. Voters in Edgartown and Oak Bluffs are also slated to consider the ban. “We think it’s not fair,” he said.
The board also had a detailed discussion about a half-dozen articles that would establish and fund a capital, building, and infrastructure stabilization fund, using new revenue streams the town expects in the coming year, including the new funds from marijuana facilities, parking, short-term rental taxes, and fees.
Though there was some debate over how the funds should be divided between the stabilization fund and general funds, the board was unanimous about establishing a fund that could be used for building and infrastructure that’s been neglected.
Rogers said he liked the idea of “forcing us to put money someplace and not taking it out” unless it’s for building or infrastructure.
In some cases, like with the marijuana facilities, the town has no idea how much revenue will be generated.
Meanwhile, selectmen unanimously approved Police Chief Mark Saloio’s recommendation to hire two new police officers — Michael Cutrer and Julia Levesque. Both candidates were in attendance, with family and members of their new department in the audience.
Saloio praised them both as Island residents who went through the local schools. They were picked from among 23 applicants. Levesque is finishing up her time at the police academy, and Cutrer, a sheriff’s department employee, still needs to attend. The board approved a 270-day waiver so he can work during the busy summer season for the department. “We’re particularly happy to have two local candidates who grew up here, graduated from high school here. They have strong ties to the Island,” Saloio said.
Selectmen agreed to have Grande talk with Clarence (“Trip”) Barnes III about his used car dealer’s license after meeting for about an hour in executive session to talk about past legal cases involving his 300 State Road property. The town has held up the license, saying that Barnes illegally rents rooms in the building.
The Plastic Free MV kids weren’t the only ones sent packing Monday night. Selectmen had to turn away the drama club from the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School, which showed up to rehearse its upcoming show, “Back to the ’80s.” Heather Capece, director of the show, had booked and paid for use of the Katharine Cornell Theater for the rehearsal, and had 20 kids scheduled to show up.
“We made a mistake,” Grande said to her, saying she would have to cancel the rehearsal. Loberg started the public portion of the board’s meeting apologizing for the confusion. Selectmen rarely meet on a Monday night.
Updated to include comments from Plastic Free MV students. -Ed