Sundays and parking are stumbling blocks for Patient Centric

Special permit for recreational marijuana outlet put on hold for at least another week.

The sign is up, but Patient Centric is still waiting for its updated special permit from the West Tisbury zoning board. — Rich Saltzberg

Geoff Rose, CEO of Patient Centric, will have to wait at least one more week to see if the West Tisbury zoning board of appeals (ZBA) will allow a storefront already approved for medical marijuana at 510 State Road to add recreational marijuana to the mix.

At a public hearing Thursday evening, zoning board members spent nearly two hours attempting to hash out whether to allow Patient Centric to operate on Sundays — something at least two neighbors object to — and whether there is enough parking at the site, given the number of employees Patient Centric will employ.

Patient Centric’s proposal has already been approved by the Martha’s Vineyard Commission.

The ZBA’s public hearing was continued until Thursday, Oct. 29, at 5:25 pm, when board members hope to take a final vote.

In letters to the board, representatives of Tea Lane Associates, a neighboring real estate firm, questioned the need for Sunday hours, as well as nighttime, after-dark hours. Constance Goodwin and Richard Cascarino, neighbors of the facility who live at 8 Oak Knoll Road, also raised the issue of traffic to and from the facility, and called on the ZBA to give them some respite from it.

“As we have expressed previously, this location for recreational sales is not only ill-advised and inappropriate for this location, it will potentially change the character of our mixed-use business district from one that supports businesses that serve the community within which they reside to a commercial fly-by stop and shop,” the letter from Goodwin and Cascarino states. “We realize that the revenue is an allure to the town, and there is more to consider — purpose over profit.”

Through a host community agreement, the town will receive a $20,000 deposit for the first year, as well as 3 percent of gross annual sales. The town also receives an additional 3 percent of the taxes imposed on the shop.

Rose asked the ZBA not to take away the Sunday hours. He offered not to open on Sundays in parts of the offseason, from November through April. Because the business is by appointment only to start — something Rose offered to do — he said he needs as much time open as possible in order to have a profitable business. “I offered up a compromise of no Sunday hours for six months and reduced hours, I hope they’ll consider that,” Rose told The Times in a follow-up interview.

Several ZBA members appeared skeptical about the financial impact, with Lawrence Schubert actually calculating how much the business might generate if each appointment was filled and each patron spent $100. Even with the limited hours, he calculated the business would only generate about 200 fewer appointments per week, and about $6.7 million per year.

“For the character of the neighborhood, I would like to see Sundays off the table,” Schubert said.

Jeffrey Kaye, an associate member of the ZBA, said he supports Sunday hours, saying for some Islanders it might be their only day off. Another member, Julius Lowe, appeared open to the idea of reduced hours on Sundays.

Rose was represented at the hearing by attorney Phil Silverman. At one point, Silverman pointed out that Rose’s cost of doing business on the Island is higher because he had to build a grow facility because marijuana products, which are illegal according to federal law, can’t be transported to the Island. In order to stock retail outlets, Rose has had to expand the facility, which is on Dr. Fisher Road.

“We can’t do what a lot of other places do in terms of buying things wholesale. You have to produce this all yourself,” Silverman said. “His cultivation center is extremely expensive to build out. It’s the nature of the Island, you’re not allowed transport across the waters. So it’s really important for him to be able to maximize the revenues. We’d really like to find some Sunday hours here.”

Rose said if there’s diminished demand on Sundays, he’ll close. “To eliminate entirely? That’s really, really challenging,” he told the board. 

On the parking issue, ZBA chair Nancy Cole said the way the bylaw is written it appeared the facility needs one parking spot for each employee. Only three spots are designated for employees in the parking plan, but Silverman said Patient Centric employees will ride-share.

There was consensus on the committee that they want a definitive answer from zoning enforcement officer Joseph Tierney Jr. on whether the overall parking plan is enough for employees and as many as 24 patrons per hour.

One thing the board seemed to agree on is that no walk-in customers should be allowed, and someone showing up without an appointment shouldn’t be able to make one from the parking lot, even if there’s a time slot available. Rose will be required to put up signs that say, “By appointment only.”

In other business, the ZBA scheduled a meeting with representatives of the West Tisbury Farmers Market. According to board administrator Pam Thors, the farmers market would like to extend its season once again at the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society property in West Tisbury. That meeting will take place on Thursday, Oct. 29, at 5 pm — just ahead of the continued public hearing on Patient Centric.