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New England Craft Cultivators receive approval for Pepperell location

Ture Turnbull, left, and Wes Ritchie, co-founders of New England Craft Cultivators, pose in front of the Silva Lane building that will house their new retail marijuana shop, which received approval from the Board of Selectmen Tuesday. (Courtesy of Wes Ritchie)
Ture Turnbull, left, and Wes Ritchie, co-founders of New England Craft Cultivators, pose in front of the Silva Lane building that will house their new retail marijuana shop, which received approval from the Board of Selectmen Tuesday. (Courtesy of Wes Ritchie)
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PEPPERELL — Following months of contentious debate, New England Craft Cultivators will be allowed to proceed with their special permit application to open a recreational marijuana dispensary at 112-114 Main St.

The Planning Board held to their interpretation of the town’s recreational marijuana bylaw, using the interpretation that the number of recreational marijuana dispensaries is tied 20% of the town’s off-site consumption liquor licenses that have actually been issued — as opposed to the total number of available, which is eight.

Recently, the Select Board granted a sixth off-site consumption liquor license out of eight total. Although it is not an exact 20%, the town’s bylaw requires the Planning Board to round up in this instance.

“After a nearly two-year process of outreach, community engagement, and conversations, we are excited to have been granted our special permit for a recreational cannabis dispensary on Main Street in Pepperell,” co-CEOs Wes Ritchie and Ture Turnbull said in a statement following the meeting. “We are revitalizing a previously vacant storefront, and tonight means we are one step closer to opening the doors to our business and, as a result, creating good paying jobs, tax revenue and economic activity for the town.”

The Planning Board’s decision will add several conditions to the special permit, and acting Chair Chuck Walkovich said the conditions were comparable to those placed on Uma Flowers LLC, the first marijuana dispensary to receive approval in town.

As part of the conditions, the special permit is subject to approval of the town’s sixth package store license by the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission.

This was the only condition Ritchie appeared concerned with, stating: “this will be a condition that subjects us to the business decisions of other businesses. We think that’s unusual. It’s our understanding that both of those shops will open. But we think that that’s exceedingly unusual.”

NECC’s special permit also requires them to have a final license approval by the state’s Cannabis Control Commission. The company has already been granted a provisional license.

New England Craft Cultivators will also be required to have a surveyor stamp on their site plan. While the company’s site plan was prepared by a civil engineer, Planning Board member Al Lonergan expressed a desire to find the “true property lines” as the surrounding area changes and redevelops.

The dispensary will only be allowed to open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays and Saturdays, while hours of operation must be kept to 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sundays.

NECC’s special permit will lapse within three years and the company is required to file within 120 days of its expiration.

The police department will also maintain a list of personnel authorized to be on the premises and NECC must update the list within five business days of any personnel changes. If any special detail is required on premises, NECC is required to bear the cost and not the town.

In the event NECC has numerous documented incidents, the Planning Board will have the authority to act with judicial review. A revocation of the company’s special permit would require a supermajority vote by the board.