Easthampton permits two more pot shops

  • Marijuana leaf isolated on white Iurii

Staff Writer
Published: 2/6/2019 11:22:56 PM

EASTHAMPTON — Two new retail marijuana shops will open in the coming months after city officials approved permits for The Verb is Herb and Herbology.

The Planning Board concluded public hearings for both special permit applications on Tuesday night after two months of deliberations with the applicants: William Hartley, of Connecticut, owner of The Verb is Herb, a “mom and pop” shop at 74 Cottage St., and the Herbology Group, of Boston, which will sell medicinal and recreational marijuana at 195 Northampton St.

Hartley, owner of a security company called Griffin Security, and Herbology, which is also seeking to open up shop in Amherst and Greenfield, were unanimously approved by the Planning Board to open Easthampton’s second and third retail marijuana shops. INSA opened for recreational sales in December and also sells medicinal marijuana.

Although the applicants had different hurdles to clear throughout the application process, both were approved with the condition that they return before the Planning Board after they open for a review of operations, according to acting chairman James Zarvis.

The Verb is Herb will return 60 days after it opens in May or June, and Herbology will return 90 days after opening in January 2020.

Zarvis said the review of operations by the Planning Board is a “new tool” that will allow the board to hear from abutting neighbors in a public setting, as well as assess how both businesses are following the conditions of their permits.

The Verb is Herb

Heading into the third public hearing for The Verb is Herb, the biggest concern for board members was how it would handle the possibility of large lines on Cottage Street.

With a bit of ingenuity, Hartley came up with the answer. For the first 60 days, The Verb is Herb will be appointment only. Using a phone and web application, called QLess, customers will be able to electronically sign up for an appointment and thereby eliminate the possibility of large lines outside of the shop.

The application is “very versatile,” Hartley said, adding that customers who think they will be late for their appointment can easily push themselves back in the queue for a later appointment.

“People don’t want to waste their time standing in line,” Hartley said. “They can go get ice cream and not just stand in line for hours on end.”

The business will have 228 square feet of retail space and the building’s occupancy capacity is set at 49 people, but Hartley told the board he is only planning on serving 10 customers at a time.

The shop’s hours of operation will be from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.

The name of the shop comes from when Hartley was growing up in Hartford, Connecticut, and he would hear people say “The verb is herb, man,” and since then, the phrase has stuck with him.

The shop will not cultivate or manufacture its own products. Rather, it will purchase bulk marijuana “flower” and infused products from Green Gold Group, which are tested under the Massachusetts adult-use cannabis program, according to the special application packet.

Herbology

At Herbology’s first public hearing in December, parents of a nearby child care center voiced opposition to a marijuana store opening just about 180 feet away from the children’s playground.

In the ensuing months, representatives from Herbology and the day care center, All About Children, have come to an agreement on how to best co-exist in close proximity.

“We worked to understand the concerns and to try to mitigate them,” said Phillip Silverman, an attorney from the law firm representing Herbology. “We are providing additional security measures by screening their property with landscaping and fencing.”

In a letter provided to the Planning Board on Wednesday, Herbology has agreed to commit $20,000 for the planting of an “arborvitae hedge row along the property line and construction of new, solid fencing around the play yard.”

Herbology estimates that the fencing and landscaping will cost approximately $7,500. The remainder of the $20,000 will be turned over to All About Children to “utilize the funds as it deems appropriate,” the letter states.

Additionally, Herbology will pay for improvements to Overlook Industries, which will include restriping and reconfiguration of the existing parking area at the front of the building, although the price of improvements was not included in the letter.

For the first 30 days, Herbology will also be appointment only. The company will also pay for 60 days of police detail around the property.

Herbology plans to grow its own medicinal marijuana in a 1,000-square-foot portion of the facility. The recreational marijuana, however, will be purchased from a wholesale supplier.

There is a long road ahead before Herbology opens. There are significant interior renovations that must be completed, such as building the cultivation facility and the 6,000-square-foot retail space, installing the HVAC system and the building’s plumbing, according to Silverman.

The facility will have over 100 spaces for parking. Proposed hours of operation are from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Herbology has not opened a recreational or medicinal shop yet, and Silverman said that Herbology is “a fairly new company and this is where they are looking to get their foothold.”

Luis Fieldman can be reached at lfieldman@gazettenet.com




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