Halifax selectmen heard from Taunton entrepreneurs Rhonda and Roy LaFlamme at their Tuesday, Feb. 23 meeting, about their plans for a cannabis retail operation coupled with home delivery of their product.
Representing Bracts & Pistils LLc, the pair told Halifax selectmen they are considering running the business out of 849 Plymouth St. Currently there are four industrial condominiums, about 900 square feet each at that location. “We’d like to take the two middle units, and operate a retail store out of one and a delivery system out of the other condo,” Roy LaFlamme told the board. The two currently have a marijuana courier license in Taunton. “We’ve been in the cannabis business since 2018.” Woman-owned, and Roy is a veteran.
Seelig told the LaFlammes, that before they go too far down the road, they should get confirmation from the building inspector that the distance between buildings and the proximity to the preschool won’t prevent a license from being issued.
Town Administrator Charlie Seelig wanted to know more about the delivery. Roy LaFlamme answered that there are several types of delivery licenses: the courier license is where a courier picks up a package from a store and delivers it. The driver operator will be selling its own product. Delivery courier is delivering other people’s product. “The one we are proposing for Halifax is a driver-operator business. It’s like a little warehouse on wheels.“
Andrews asked what fee they were proposing for the town. “That’s negotiable,” Roy LaFlamme answered. The 3% is a negotiated sum, and at the end of the period, quarter, fiscal year, the percentage is paid to the town. Our business model is not to accept cash. Everything is done electronically.
Chris Winiewicz of Circuit St. wanted to point out that there is more frontage on the side street, than on Route 106. “I think it is something to keep in consideration. Children congregate on that road.”
Seelig reminded Winiewicz that there are several steps to opening a marijuana business in Halifax: First is the Host Community Agreement, second is the license, and third is bringing the project through zoning.
Halifax now zoned Yellow for COVID
Seelig told the Board of Selectmen that as of Feb. 18, Halifax is now classed as Yellow designation, rather than red. “Halifax had been red since the beginning of December. Seelig said he was notified by the state that there was a tenth death on Feb 18, an elderly resident in their 80s who was hospitalized with other underlying medical issues in addition to COVID.
Seelig also reported that the very local vaccine clinics won’t be happening. Fire Chief Jason Viveiros is investigating the possibility of Halifax joining with Bridgewater State University as they put together a regional effort for COVID vaccinations. Seelig said that they still need to set up a “Last Mile” program for people of any age who can’t or won’t leave the town for their vaccine, but the information for that probably wouldn’t be available for at least a couple of weeks from the state.
Housing Authority members named
As part of the state legislation approved last month, Halifax did finally get the procedures in place for appointment of members to the Housing Authority, for the tenant seat as well as the other seats on the board. “What we’ll have now is a five- member housing authority: Three members are elected by the voters, one tenant member appointed by the board of selectmen, either from names from the local tenant organization or volunteers, and one member appointed by the state.
“As of right now, Seelig told selectmen, we have Richard Clark, an elected member whose term ends in May of 2025; Beatrice McCarthy, whose term ends in 2024, Christine Tomkins, whose term ends in 2023, and a vacant seat, that would be the tenant’s seat, whose term would end in 2022. Martha Smith is the State appointee for an indefinite term. Seelig suggested to leave the tenant’s seat vacant at this time and it will be filled either at the town election or afterward.
Halifax vs. Peck was a bylaw violation that came up two or three years ago regarding an earth removal complaint, Seelig told Selectmen. There was a hearing before the clerk magistrate scheduled but COVID shutdowns prevented it from happening. Now the courts are re-starting their hearings schedule and this is still on their docket. Seelig said that according to his recollection, the board had written to the court saying the matter had been settled. Seelig asked the board if they would like him to send the letter again to the District Court advising the Court that the matter has been settled. Selectman Troy Garron agreed.
Selectmen unanimously approved the request of Thomas Schindler for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act for a period ending March 20, 2021.
Seelig told the board that two additional town meeting articles were submitted from the Silver Lake School District: one for tennis court reconstruction with a total cost of approximately $340,000. Halifax’s cost would be based on their pro-rated share. The second warrant article would add to the stabilization fund for the District. Seelig told the board that the town has consistently voted against this, but he suggested that both articles appear on the town meeting warrant for voters to decide.
Seelig told selectmen that recent testing showing the amount of phosphorous in Monponsett Ponds and two other Halifax ponds show elevated levels of phosphorous, a nutrient that is the primary contributor to algae growth, requiring further aluminum sulfate treatments. Seelig said that he would look at the town’s stormwater runoff program, another contributing factor, as is the runoff from fertilizer applied to upstream cranberry bogs. Seelig said there are grant possibilities to help pay for the pond treatments and the pumps used to dispense aluminum sulfate.
The state has grouped ten different grants under the one umbrella called Community One Stop for Growth, and asks for communities to submit an “Expression of Interest”. Seelig said they are looking for big projects not specific to town government, but “more community based”. He suggested considering redevelopment of the properties at or near the intersection of Routes 58 and 106, extending the sidewalk network so it is not a “piecemeal” effort. Other possibilities include: Setting up a plan for replacement or reconstruction of several municipal buildings including but not limited to fire, police, water, and the water building, Council on Aging; a municipal broadband network for better internet service throughout Halifax; and also a large scale repaving of roads throughout the town. Garron and Selectman Gordon Andrews asked if a bridge project combining the several bridges in Halifax in need of repair could be considered. Seelig will get back to Selectmen in a couple of weeks to see if there are other areas of interest for the town.
The Fire Dept. has been awarded two grants, a Student Awareness of Fire Education grant for $4,692 and a Senior SAFE grant award for $2,480.
Selectmen also discussed amendments to the Wage & Personnel by-law. Seelig said he hasn’t been able to collect much data from the 10 towns for comparisons on grades 7 and 6, they will have zoom joint committee meetings. “I did review the changes proposed by the Fire Chief and I can recommend them to the Finance Committee.“
David Walsh, Commander of Halifax VFW Post 6258, has asked selectmen to consider making August 7 Purple Heart Day in Halifax. Walsh will attend the next meeting of selectmen March 9 to present the proposal to selectmen.
Seelig told the board that there is a proposed Nursing Service Agreement between the town and Tammy Lorizio that would replace the previous VNA agreement. Lorizio would work as a contractor, not an employee, with pay negotiated at $2,332 for FY21 and $7,000 for FY22. Selectmen voted to approve, contingent on Town Council’s approval.
Selectmen interviewed Joseph Vetrano and Debra Pasquale who are interested in filling the vacant positions on the Finance Committee. Vetrano has lived in Halifax for six years and works as a senior purchasing agent dealing with numbers and budgets all day long.
Debra Pasquale has lived in Halifax for 12 years and now works as a photographer. She also noted she is taking the exam to apply for a real estate license. She has been active in the Monponsett Watershed Assn. and advocates strongly for the health of the ponds. She said she wants to serve the town, “…because I want to live in Halifax for the rest of my life.”
Fred McGovern of the Finance Committee said he looks forward to getting back to a full board with these two candidates, noting it will be a very busy time preparing the town budget for the Spring Town Meeting. He said that the Finance Committee voted unanimously to accept both candidates.
Andrews said Pasquale and Vetrano would serve through June 15, 1922, both filling unexpired terms. Garron said “it gives you an opportunity to get your feet wet.” Garron moved to accept the recommendation of the Finance Committee. Seelig told them to contact the Town Clerk to get sworn in.
Susan Johnston, administrative assistant at the Recycling Center and Sandra Nolan came before the board to discuss recycling in Halifax. They gave selectmen a report showing the cash breakdown of the department, pointing out a large line item for town dumpsters – $21,000. The biggest expenses are for town dumpsters and Hazardous Waste Day open to all residents and the needle sharps return. If those could be paid for out of the general fund, then they think the solid waste bags would be able to continue with the fee schedule as is.
Selectmen told the duo that recycling rebates are a perennial problem and they would appreciate a protocol for residents with private haulers to document their recycling for rebate applications.
Answering Andrews’ question, “Should we be continuing the abatement system,” Johnston said, “In 2007 we signed an agreement – people have to show that they are recycling in order for us to continue getting a $3000 grant each year… As long as a recycling charge is shown on the bill from private trash haulers, and people can produce the invoice showing the charge, we know the recycling charge has been paid. The town can then rebate Halifax’s recycling charge to those residents with private trash haulers.
They all agreed this would take much more discussion at another time.