The Tewksbury Select Board met last night. Because chair Todd Johnson joined remotely, vice-chair James Mackey ran the meeting.
Cracker Barrel traded in its wine and malt license for a full liquor license so that it can serve a wider variety of beverages. Right now, serving hours are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; the company may return to ask to open at 10 a.m. on Sunday for brunch. The category change was approved unanimously.
The board’s vote to approve and post the state election warrant for Nov. 8 was largely pro forma, but members did remind residents to get to the polls, either during early voting or on election day.
Next, the board discussed the process to award the town’s three retail marijuana licenses, once the state ratifies the zoning changes approved by voters at October Town Meeting.
“This isn’t on a fast track,” said Johnson, referring to the licensing process. Despite a number of community meetings, it will likely be three months or so before the board considers applications.
Editor’s note: Add one to that list. Lazy River Products, LLC will hold a Community Outreach Meeting on Monday, Nov 7 at 6:30 p.m. at the Holiday Inn to discuss a proposed adult and medical use marijuana retail establishment at 553 Main St., the Job Lots plaza. Lazy River operates a retail dispensary in Dracut. The Carnation draws this information from official legal notices placed in local papers including The Sun and The Crier.
Key changes in the Tewksbury bylaw:
The Select Board will consider issuing the local marijuana retail sales licenses only after receiving a complete application, input received during the Community Outreach Meetings and a complete Host Community Agreement. The phrase “first come, first served” was stricken.
The board will look for, among other things, “demonstrated relevant experience in the cannabis industry or a similar industry,” compatibility of the proposed location with adjacent neighborhoods, a parking and traffic mitigation plan and evidence that the business has enough capital to succeed over the long term.
The board may also consider geographical location. The zoning map indicates in red the three areas where outlets may be sited. There are currently proposals for all three zones. Applicants will need to complete a site plan review with the Planning Board prior to coming before the Select Board.
The board also retains the right to favor a qualified local applicant. While hearings will be scheduled in the order applications are received, it sounds like would-be new business owners should err on the side of completeness over speed.
Residence Inn will become apartments. Sawyer Realty Development, which is also leading the Wood Haven 55+ project, addressed the board in regard to adaptive reuse of the former extended stay Residence Inn at 1775 Andover St.
Sawyer plans on 130 units — 34 two bedrooms and the remainder one bedrooms. There will be no three-bedroom units, and one-third of the apartments will be affordable at 25% of AMI (annual median income). Market rents are expected to be $1,600 to $2,100, below average for the area, and there will be an option to have a furnished unit.
The company has owned the hotel, which sits on an 8.77 acre lot — located, coincidentally, just across the road from Cracker Barrel — since 2019. The proposed density is approximately 15 units per acre. There is the potential for a co-working space in the lobby area.
Sawyer will address comments by town officials regarding the small size of the units by offering outdoor amenities, such as hiking trails. Parking is another concern, especially for the two-bedroom units.
Mass Housing Partnership is involved in the project and, in a letter, praised the track record of the developer and suitability of the property for adaptive reuse.
Town Manager Richard Montuori said the project could put the town over its 10% affordable requirement, but he is unable to say for sure until the census and housing stock numbers are certified.
The project concept was approved unanimously.
The town manager’s report was limited to a request to approve town counsel invoices totaling about $12,000.
In board member reports, member Mark Kratman reminded residents of the North and Trahan School Reuse Committee public meeting being held on Thursday from 6:30 – 8 p.m. at TMHS and covered the items discussed in this article.
Johnson commended the Town Manager and staff on their preparation for Special Town Meeting and praised voters for the positive results this year.
“The preparedness, the transparency, the level of information that’s put forward is paying dividends,” said Johnson. Town Meeting approved not only retail marijuana but a new DPW/school maintenance facility.
Member Jayne Wellman said two seats are open on the Tewksbury Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisory Committee and encouraged interested residents to apply. Wellman also advised the committee that the number of unhoused people in the community is increasing, and she commended TPD officer Kim Welch for starting a blanket and sweatshirt drive. Residents are asked to drop off new blankets and sweatshirts in the collection bin located in the TPD lobby.
She also said the TDEIAC is considering a community fridge program, so anyone considering disposing of a working refrigerator — particularly a garage fridge — should contact Wellman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mackey also commended Town Meeting results and reported on a cybersecurity grant from Dragos, which specializes in protecting critical infrastructure. The services provided to the town will help protect our power, water and other systems.
“I notified the board two months ago that we were receiving a grant from Dragos for a cybersecurity project,” said Mackey. “We’re actually getting ready to kick that off. So we will be able to put that almost $100,000 to good use.”
Finally, he encouraged veterans to attend the Veteran’s Breakfast to be held on Nov. 10 at the Senior Center from 9 – 11 a.m.