Voters to weigh zoning change allowing marijuana facility in Wareham's Tremont Nail Factory District
A multi-million dollar company that does business internationally is eyeing the Tremont Nail Factory District as a potential site to process marijuana. But it will be up to Wareham voters at an upcoming Special Town Meeting if it should be allowed to open or not.
On Tuesday, Director of Planning & Community Development Ken Buckland informed Selectmen a Colorado-based company, which he declined to name, expressed interest in opening inside a warehouse on the 7.2-acre site on Elm Street.
On the property, where nails were manufactured since the 1800s up until 2004 before the town purchased the site, there are eight buildings. Some date back 300 years, while the building being considered for the marijuana business is a few decades old.
Buckland said plans call for employing between 40 to 70 people with salaries for shift work starting at $63,000. More importantly, Buckland and Town Administrator Derek Sullivan noted, the business has the potential to bring in $1 million in revenue over a five-year period. That money would be a mix of rent to the town and taxes.
“This would be pure revenue,” said Sullivan.
However, there is a problem. The site wasn’t included in a recently passed bylaw restricting marijuana businesses to three areas of town. Also, questions surrounding whether or not the area is properly zoned for light manufacturing remain. Developers plan on processing 12 tons of marijuana per year at the site, said Selectman Peter Teitelbaum.
The solution is to schedule a Special Town Meeting before the regularly scheduled October Town Meeting. At the meeting, voters would be asked to include the Tremont Nail Factory District as a location where a marijuana business could open. Voters would also be asked to alter zoning bylaws to allow for light manufacturing there as well.
Selectmen noted there was a chance the zoning change may not be necessary because manufacturing had been allowed there for years as a grandfathered use long before zoning bylaws were enacted in the 1950s. Town Counsel Richard Bowen said he would need to research the matter. Bowen recommended Selectmen move forward with the Special Town Meeting, but stipulate the business owners cover the costs.
Chair Alan Slavin acknowledged the business may raise some eyebrows.
“We understand this is an industry not everybody is in favor of,” said Slavin. “But it’s possible we could increase town services.”
Selectman Patrick Tropeano agreed.
“This is a question for town meeting,” he said. “Voters will decide if they want it there or if they don’t want it there.”
Selectmen unanimously approved a motion to move forward with Special Town Meeting, at a date yet to be determined.