Retail pot store pitched to Pepperell selectmen

Board wants more info on parking spots and traffic impacts of proposed store

Valerio Romano, left, with Tejal Patel and Priyanka Patel of Uma Flowers LLC at a Pepperell Board of Selectmen meeting.
Valerio Romano, left, with Tejal Patel and Priyanka Patel of Uma Flowers LLC at a Pepperell Board of Selectmen meeting.

PEPPERELL – The Board of Selectmen and town residents listened to a presentation from Uma Flowers LLC, which is hoping to open the town’s first retail pot shop.

The presentation came courtesy of the company’s co-founders Priyanka Patel and her sister-in-law, Tejal Patel. The Waltham-based duo was accompanied by adviser Yash Patel and attorney Valerio Romano, a co-author of Question 4 that legalized marijuana in Massachusetts when it was approved by voters on Aug. 1, 2017.

Uma Flowers LLC is proposing to renovate the 1,200 square-foot building at 2 Tarbell St. in a commercial zoning district to serve as the retail marijuana shop.

Product will be transferred from other licensed marijuana establishments in Massachusetts to the store strictly for sale, as no on-site consumption will be allowed at the store. Marijuana cultivation or production will also not be allowed at the store, the proponents said.

The store will share the same building as a 7-Eleven and Brown & Brown Insurance of New Hampshire’s office.

Hayes Engineering prepared a traffic impact study for the proposed store. The firm anticipated an increase of 123 cars during the weekdays and an increase of 200 cars on Saturdays.

The proposed store will also have thorough security checking that customers’ IDs are 21 and over, making them legally eligible to purchase marijuana.

Uma Flowers claims its store will create between eight to 10 new jobs, offer a three percent local sale tax on each product sold and revitalize the surrounding area of town. It also promised the store will properly dispose of its waste to avoid annoying odors, along with not engaging in any forms of loud speaker equipment or vehicles to advertise marijuana. None of the store’s product will be visible from outside of the building and no marijuana will be consumed on the premises.

Board members expressed concerns about the small parking lot at the space of the proposed store.

“Being a southern New Hampshire border town, I think you’re going to have an influx of out-of-state traffic,” Chair William Greathead said. “On Saturday mornings, you’re going to think it’s downtown Boston.”

“I’ve heard the words ‘chaotic’ and ‘negligent’ thrown around in regards to the parking,” member Margaret Scarsdale added.

Romano agreed that Uma Flowers likely needed to “reevaluate” the current parking and traffic study in efforts to please not only the Board of Selectmen, but also the Planning Board.

The firm still needs to apply for a special permit and site plan approval from the Planning Board. There’s also an application process with the Cannabis Control Commission, obtaining a provisional license, a Host Community Agreement and contracting with a professional security company to set-up a proper security plan for the building.

“It took us six months to find a site that meets the town’s zoning requirements,” advisor Patel said. “We thought this was a great opportunity for us to express ourselves.”