Members Melissa Braga and Charles Roux were absent.
1. Assistant town manager Steve Sadwick was at this month’s meeting to discuss a couple of items relevant to the Board of Heath. First up was retail marijuana. Sadwick said the Zoning Bylaw Committee had been supportive of opening up retail sales but decided to take the proposal to the fall town meeting. They decided the best path for Tewksbury would be to treat permitting like a liquor license, where those seeking to open a retail marijuana shop would apply for a license through the Select Board.
There are four zoning areas in town where retail establishments could be opened, but Sadwick confirmed the town would only be allowed to open three storefronts.
Sadwick has already updated the Planning and Select Boards on the upcoming article, and Tewksbury police chief Ryan Columbus is on board. Sadwick felt that it was appropriate to also bring the proposal to the Board of Heath in case members had any questions.
Vice-chair Bob Scarano asked about zoning reviews, and Sadwick confirmed that any building “not residential has to go through the site plan review process with the Planning Board, which is a simple majority of the Planning Board but looks at things such as traffic and drainage — things that are site specific, not the use itself.”
Director of public health Shannon Gillis clarified that any sealed infused marijuana products would not have to receive a permit from the Board of Health
2. Sadwick was also there to discuss creating local well regulations, specifically for the area around the Sutton Brook Superfund site. Currently no wells are allowed in the plume area of the site; in the buffer area, water can be drawn with certain controls. Residents who live in this area now are aware of the restrictions, but the town is looking to have regulations in place for when new residents move in.
There was some back and forth discussion on whether there should be a regulation for the entire town or just surrounding the Superfund site, and if the regulations should be specific or just exclusionary in nature. The Board also thought some educational pamphlets for residents would be helpful, since a shallow well can be dug easily and without town oversight. The Board plans to put together a sub-committee to discuss creating a town regulation.
3. Ron Beauregard, Tewksbury’s healthy communities tobacco control officer, was on hand to discuss updating the town’s tobacco regulations. Currently, Tewksbury’s rules are not as strict as state regulations, so the town needs to update its rules to match the state’s. That can be done without a public hearing.
Some of the new, stricter regulations are in regard to flavored tobacco products, updated signage, proof from manufacturers that no products on shelves contain flavor, child-proof packaging requirements and proper disposal of liquid tobacco products.
Beauregard is going to put together a summary sheet in time for the Board’s next meeting. At that time, members can discuss updating the town regulations to be in line with the state and any other enhancements members would like to add, and that would require a public hearing.
4. Dawn Fisher, owner of E-Market, 1699 Shawsheen St., was before the board to discuss a tobacco sales violation. Fisher was not contesting the violation, only asking for some leniency. The violation occurred while she was out of state, and her staff member had to call in her daughter to work in the store due to a medical issue. The board was sympathetic to her situation but unfortunately had no leeway within the regulations. They were open to Fisher paying the $1,000 fine in installments and will consult with town council to see if that is possible. They will reach out to Fisher when they hear back from the attorney.
5. Next was 1899 Smoke Shop, 1899 Main St., which also had a tobacco violation. Again, the violation was not contested, and the fine has been paid, but it was mandatory for the owner to appear before the Board. There was some uncertainty if the owner’s nonappearance resulted in another fine. Chair Ray Barry will get confirmation and reach out to the owner again.
6. The final tobacco violation was Tewksbury Mobil, 1785 Andover St. That owner was on hand and admitted the staff member made a mistake and sold a tobacco product to a minor. Generally, the store has a policy to card everyone, but it was busy and the employee did not in this instance ask for a license. The store has paid the fine and will send a mitigation plan to Gillis.
7. Lisa’s Family Pizzeria owners Danny Nasr and David Arshakayan were present to discuss recent food safety violations at their 2312 Main St. restaurant.
It was noted that the restaurant is currently closed due to electrical issues that the building owner is addressing, not due to the BOH violations.
Gillis gave a recap for the board. There was a fire July 27 in a building behind the restaurant, and in order for the shop to reopen, there had to be an inspection, which was done the next day. At that walk-through the inspector discovered that conditions were not sanitary, there was evidence of pests and food was being prepared in a non-complaint basement. The restaurant has a history of similar violations since 2018. In 2020, the owners hired a consultant to help address issues and have been compliant since.
The owners are working to get the basement into compliance by adding a prep sink, a hand-wash sink, baseboards, a drop ceiling and washable surfaces. The owner of the building is working on getting an enclosure for the back dumpsters to help with the pest issue.
Gillis did not feel that a consultant needed to be brought in again but suggested more regular inspections once the restaurant reopens. The owners will also be required to send a monthly pest report and cleaning schedule to her office.
8. Animal control was out at Oliveira Farm on August 15 to inspect the property and animals. The officer said it’s best she’s ever seen the property, though she was unable to determine the condition of the pony and the donkey because they were too far away. She saw no access to hay in the storage area, but the animals could graze in the field, so that could be why. Barry recently spoke with town counsel because the farm is not in compliance with the BOH order and is still subject to a fine of $100 per day.
A letter will be sent out to remind the owners of the violation.
9. Long Pond has been closed due to high levels of bacteria. The water was retested on August 11, and the bacteria level was 116,500 cells per ml. Until that number falls below 70,000, the pond will remain closed to the public. The state will come out next month to test again.
10. Scarano warned about a new drug being added to recreational drugs that is significantly stronger than fentanyl. He says there are no safe recreational drugs anywhere. He plans to put some information about this up on the BOH site soon.
11. Finally, Barry discussed how the board will discuss educational topics at the end of meetings going forward. Next month there will be a discussion of substance abuse with the Tewksbury Police Department and Tewksbury Cares.