Marijuana retail plans presented to Wareham board

Jan 28, 2019

One of three businesses to be awarded a recreational marijuana sales license in Wareham brought designs for a 17,000-square-foot facility to the Planning Board on Monday, seeking approval for a special permit that will bring it one step closer to opening.

The company, Trade Roots, signed an agreement with the town back in June of 2018. It was the second retail marijuana business to be approved by Selectmen alongside Verilife and Xiphias Wellness. 

The Rochester-based company is headed by Wareham native Jesse Pitts, who is looking to move Trade Roots’ headquarters into 6 Thatcher Lane, a building vacated by marine chart company Navionics in May.

Current plans call for dividing the existing structure into three separate spaces with 15,000 square feet set aside for retail operations. The remaining spaces would be used for the cultivation of marijuana and the manufacturing of marijuana-based products.

The idea, Pitts said, is for Trade Roots to provide supply to its own demand.

The existing structure is fully serviced with sewer and water according to project engineer Bill Madden, presenting no need for new service facilities, he said. 

Additional plans presented to the Planning Board, however, included an 848-square-foot steel building, which Madden said would be built in the company’s second year of operation if approved. This building would be used for cultivation only.

A separate, gated parking lot for employees and a shuttle drop off area were also included in the company’s plans.

Madden said the shuttle drop off would help to accommodate a larger flow of customers to the store, if needed.

“We’ve been looking at what Verilife has done and what might we be asked to do,” said Madden. “So while we might not need a drop off area, we felt it better to put it on the plan than not.”

Due to high interest in marijuana products, customers to Verilife have been required to place their orders online and then take a shuttle to the store from a satellite parking lot to reduce traffic. 

The idea was met with pushback from Planning Board Member Marc Bianco, who said such things were turning Wareham’s retail marijuana operations into a spectacle.

These things are supposed to be incognito,” Bianco said. “We’re not supposed to know they exist. This is a brand new industry to the state, and its important for us to have the right aesthetic appeal.”

Planning Board member Emmanuel Daskalakis also raised concerns, saying that the number of windows on the main building and materials for the proposed addition were not permitted within town bylaws.

“Unless there is an exception in the bylaw,” he said. “You only have the options of wood, stone or masonry.”

Pitts said he would be willing to rework the design to fit town bylaws and look for solutions to lessen the need for a shuttle service.

The Planning Board will have 30 days to review the entirety of Pitts’ plans before referring them to the Zoning Board of Appeals and the town Building Commissioner.

Should the Zoning Board of Appeals grant Trade Roots a special permit to operate within an industrial zone, Pitts will then be able to send his plans out for state approval.