CHARLTON – Selectmen have approved a host and development agreement for marijuana cultivation and sales as part of a $100 million project planned for Charlton Orchards land.
Town Administrator Robin L. Craver negotiated the multi-faceted deal with Valley Green Grow of North Andover. At a special selectmen’s meeting Tuesday, she detailed how the agreement is expected to add more than $2 million in annual town revenue.
Charlton Orchards Group LLC is selling its 94-acre farm at 44 Old Worcester Road to developer Valley Green Grow LLC for a proposal that would construct, among other things, a 1-million- to 3-million-square-foot commercial greenhouse.
Valley Green Grow LLC will own the property and its structures, and lease space to Valley Green Grow Inc., a not-for-profit seeking state licenses to cultivate, process and dispense marijuana.
In the multi-tenant proposal, the LLC will also lease to other licensed operators, giving each up to 100,000 square feet to grow cannabis.
If all licenses are obtained and other conditions met, the developer agrees to pay the town a minimum annual development fee of $1.2 million on the cultivation, which escalates 2.5 percent each year.
The proposal also calls for building a research and retail facility for sales of both medical and recreational marijuana.
If approved at town meeting Monday, recreational marijuana sales will be subject to a 3 percent excise tax. An annual development fee of $300,000 or 3 percent, whichever is higher, of both the recreational and medical sales will be assessed along with an annual impact fee of $50,000.
Ms. Craver said the more than $100 million project will also bring substantial revenue from permitting fees, as well as all applicable real estate and property taxes.
If all goes as planned, the developer will also pay $500,000 to the town to be put toward constructing a new Public Safety Building.
“I’ve heard from many people that it shouldn’t be about the money, and yet sometimes it is about the money,” Selectman Deborah B. Noble said Tuesday. “We just had to have a Prop. 2½ override to fund our schools. I think that we have an opportunity here to relieve the individual property owner of their tax burden.”
Selectman Karen A. Spiewak’s response was “money isn’t the answer to everything,” and she said she would have preferred a public hearing before Tuesday, when the board was asked to vote.
Selectmen voted unanimously to sign the agreement. Selectman David M. Singer was absent from the meeting.
Ms. Craver said the selectmen’s host agreement does not speak for all boards, and although not required to do so, Valley Green Grow has agreed to undergo Planning Board site plan review.
An article for Monday's town meeting sponsored by the Planning Board seeks to amend zoning bylaws for marijuana establishments to decide whether recreational marijuana uses are allowed in each zoning district and if so, to develop regulations.
Because Valley Green Grow submitted its application to the town in April, it is not subject to zoning changes, such as those that might be approved at the town meeting, for eight years.
The Planning Board will consider Valley Green Grow’s preliminary site plan during its June 6 meeting.