By SCOTT JACKSON
The Zoning Board of Appeals has given the green light to a proposed marijuana dispensary in Quincy Point, which would be the first recreational dispensary to open in the city.
The ZBA on Tuesday granted a special permit and variance to Cadella LLC, which would allow the company to open the dispensary at 715 Washington St., a property that abuts the rotary at the base of the Fore River Bridge and is currently home to a pool-supply store. Cadella must still get final approval from state regulators before it can open.
Ron Affsa, who owns Hairplace One on Quincy Avenue, would be the operator of the proposed dispensary in Quincy Point, along with Jon Napoli, who operates a dispensary in Northampton.
The city’s zoning code prohibits marijuana establishments from opening within 1,500 feet of a residential zoning district and within 500 feet of any schools, day care, playground and certain other facilities, unless the applicant obtains a variance from the ZBA. Cadella’s proposed location is 1,150 feet from the nearest residential zoning district, according to Valerio Romano, an attorney for the applicant, which is why the company sought the variance it received.
Affsa said he spent several years trying to find a suitable location in which he could open a dispensary. The location at 715 Washington St. was the closest to meeting all the requirements of the city’s zoning code.
“The way the zoning is right now, it’s close to impossible to meet every one of those things,” he said. “This was the closest checking off as many boxes as we could. We’re ecstatic for this location. We think it’s the perfect spot for this.
“Of all the places we looked at, this is by far the best spot.”
Cadella will not be growing marijuana on site and will purchase its products from wholesalers in Massachusetts. Customers will be able to place their orders online on the company’s website and then pickup their order inside the store.
“Generally, people can get in and out of there in a couple minutes that way,” Napoli said. “Even if you’re coming in without a preorder it’s a pretty quick transaction – people don’t need to hang around. They get what they need, they pay for it, and you see them out the door.
“Luckily we have a great parking lot with an easy exit.”
The property at 715 Washington St. contains about 13,000 square feet of land. There are currently 15 parking spaces on site and the applicant plans to create two more spaces by paving over a gravel area, according to civil engineer Ian Ainslie.
Napoli said all 17 spaces would be for the store’s customers. Employees will be provided a stipend to take public transportation – the site is located on two MBTA bus routes – or a taxi or rideshare. Employees could bike to work as well.
If necessary, Romano said the company could provide parking offsite and shuttle employees to and from the store.
Napoli said the dispensary would employ 25 to 27 workers in total and a maximum of 13 would be inside the store at a given time. There would nine stations at which marijuana is sold – though all nine stations might not be open at a given time – plus a manager and one or two security personnel.
Cadella would be allowed to open seven days a week with the same business hours as a liquor store. Those are the hours a dispensary is allowed to be open under the city ordinance.
The state charges a 17 percent sales tax on recreational marijuana sales and Quincy has adopted a 3 percent local tax. Romano said his client has signed a host-community agreement with the city that will provide Quincy with an additional 3 percent of the company’s revenue.
“Quincy is getting six points off the top of this business – it goes back to the city,” he said.
The store will have at least one security agent on site during business hours in accordance with state regulations. All customers must show valid identification before being let into the main sales area. The interior and exterior of the premises – including all entrances, exits, and areas where marijuana is contained – will be surveilled by security cameras around the clock, and the Quincy Police Department will have access to the cameras.
“This is going to be the most secure facility in Quincy probably,” Romano said. “This is more secure than a Walgreens selling oxycontin or a bank.”
Cadella has also reached an agreement with Jay Cashman, who owns the nearby section of the Fore River Shipyard, which will require the dispensary to pay for a police detail on site for the first 90 days it is open. The detail could be extended past 90 days at the discretion of the police department or it could be terminated earlier than that.
Martin Aikens, the chairperson of the zoning board, said the nearby stop light at the intersection of Washington Street and South Street would provide breaks in traffic, allowing ample time for vehicles leaving the site to enter the rotary.
“I think it’s a perfect, perfect place,” Aikens said. “It’s going to work fine.”
Board member John Himmel said Napoli’s dispensary in Northampton is well-run.
“I’ve seen their operation in Northampton,” he said. “It’s tight, it’s clean and well-run.”
One person spoke during the public hearing on the application. John Rodophele, a Grenwold Road resident, said he was concerned there would not be enough parking on site and customers would try to cut across the rotary if they want to head north on Washington Street.
“I don’t think there’s enough parking in that for the customers. I don’t think there is enough parking for the employees,” he said. “I think it’s dangerous when the people leave the parking lot – I think they’re going to be going back to Quincy and cutting across.”
Massachusetts voters approved the legalization of recreational marijuana in a November 2016 referendum. Statewide, 53.6 percent of voters backed the measure, and 51 percent of voters in Quincy did so as well.
While Cadella would be the first recreational dispensary to open in Quincy, a medical marijuana dispensary, Ermont, has been open on Ricciuti Drive since 2016.