Town Administrator Charlie Seelig told the Selectmen that he had submitted his resignation effective November 20. “I will be working during the next few weeks cleaning out and organizing the office so that whoever is coming in has a less burdensome walk than they would after 26 years,” he said. The Board discussed a process for hiring a new town administrator. Selectman Gordon Andrews said a committee could be formed to do the interview process. He said they could reach out to a firm to find an interim town administrator. Selectman Troy Garron recommended that Selectmen Assistant Pam McSherry, Town Clerk Susan Lawless, Town Accountant Sandra Nolan, and a citizen at large be included on such a committee.
Seelig said that Green Earth Cannabis had asked that the Board suspend any action concerning the town’s Host Community Agreement (HCA) due to the outreach forum needing to occur within 6 months of their application to the state. “They would like to make sure they don’t have any legal problems with the Cannabis Control Commission (CCC),” Seelig explained. He further said that the plan moving forward would be to hold another community outreach forum at a future date.
Regarding legislative re-districting, Seelig said that Representative Kathy LaNatra responded to the town’s wish not to be split between two districts saying that she felt that the townspeople would have more support at the State House if the town were split between two representatives. “The legislature went with a plan that did split,” Seelig said.
A meeting was held under Facilities Manager Matt Durkee’s direction to review the possibility of putting in air conditioner units in all the classrooms at the Halifax Elementary School. Andrews, who also serves on the Halifax Elementary School Committee, explained that there would be a meeting to address the question of whether ARPA funds could be used for that purpose.
The Selectmen had an appointment with the Chair of the Halifax Elementary School Committee Summer Schmaling. Schmaling addressed the Committee saying, “I come to you… requesting that you consider a stipend for the employees in the school department; it has come to our understanding that there was a stipend granted to some of the town employees who worked through COVID using ARPA funds, I believe.” Andrews said that he felt differently saying, “The school basically shut down – the town didn’t. The town continued to work.” Selectman Ashley DiSesa said that she felt that using ARPA funds for the air conditioning at the school was a way of contributing funds to the school. Andrews pointed out the many ways in which the town’s CARES Act funds were used to aid the school including laptops for the teachers. “I think the town stepped up for the school system,” he explained. Schmaling said she understood the Board’s perspective and thanked them for allocating so much of the CARES Act funding toward the school.
Seelig said there was a public records request by Thomas Millias for records from the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA), the Planning Board, the Building Inspector, and the Board of Selectmen. Former longtime Selectmen Millias was in attendance during the meeting. There was also a public records request from Amy L. Troupe that included 800 pages of material.
Seelig told the Board that the Mass Office of Public Safety notified him that the town is required to have an Inspector of Buildings and not just a Building Inspector. “Jim Perry is currently the Building Inspector but does not have the necessary certifications to be an Inspector of Buildings,” Seelig explained. The current alternate Building Inspector does have those credentials Seelig further explained. Seelig said the Board could appoint him that night or refer the matter to town counsel for further guidance. Andrews recused himself from the matter. Regarding Perry, Millias, who was in the audience asked, “Didn’t we advertise for an Inspector of Buildings/Buildings Commissioner and aren’t we paying somebody $70,000 a year for that position and now you’re saying that that person cannot perform the duties; is that what I’m hearing; I just want to be clear? We’re paying somebody $70,000 a year that can’t do that job, correct? Am I wrong?” DiSesa said Perry only needed one more certification. Earlier this year the Board of Selectmen elected not to reinstate Robert Piccirilli as Building Inspector and opened the position to applicants. Garron was adamant about wanting to rehire Piccirilli but failed to convince DiSesa. The conversation got heated during Tuesday’s meeting and DiSesa said, “We’re going to stop the conversation, thank you.” Millias said sarcastically, “Change is good, thank you. Change is good; we just don’t listen to anybody anymore, that’s the change. Nicely done.”
A community outreach forum was held with Elevated Roots who are proposing a retail marijuana store at 319 Monponsett Street. A representative talked about being a good corporate citizen that is responsive to community feedback. “We think one of our biggest benefits to the town is our ability to open a business quickly which really just means quicker tax and revenue generation,” he explained. He also explained that one of the two owners is a Kingston resident. The representative also spoke about security plans to assuage any concerns pertaining to that. The company currently has a retail store in Kingston. There were no questions from members of the audience.
There was another community outreach forum also held for CannaBud who is proposing a marijuana retail store at Lot 10 on Monponsett St. Owner Phillip Tringali has lived in Halifax since 1984. The company said that not only are they locally owned but they would look to hire locally as well for their anticipated 25 job openings. Tringali said he has owned a multitude of businesses since 1988. “Phil has a longtime track record of owning and operating successful businesses,” his lawyer explained. His lawyer also said that in addition to being a senior citizen, Tringali is also a Vietnam veteran. She shared with the Selectmen that the largest growing demographic of cannabis usage is the over 55 population.
The proposed location is 7.5 acres within a 400-acre land lot. According to CannaBud the location is compliant with all applicable zoning bylaws in an industrial zone, however, a special permit would be required from the Zoning Board of Appeals. The location is on the outskirts of the town. CannaBud plans to build a state-of-the-art establishment specifically for this purpose as opposed to reconfiguring an existing establishment. DiSesa said that currently the lot is considered undevelopable. Tringali seemed to imply that only applied to a portion of the lot in question. Like Elevated Roots before them, they also spoke at length about a number of security measures saying that they would not only meet but exceed the CCC’s requirements.
Tringali spoke about financial projections. He said, “We’re willing to commit, which we, quite frankly don’t have to, five percent of profits of the store back to the town in a town fund; now I don’t know anyone that has done this… but I feel it’s very important as part of our contribution back to the town.” Regarding numbers he said he anticipates roughly 300 tickets a day at $120 a ticket. “In the second full year of operation of this store, we’ll be doing $22 to $26 million dollars in revenue,” he explained. Tringali said that it would translate to $1,500,000 to $2,000,000 back to the town. There were no questions for CannaBud from anyone present during Tuesday’s meeting.