Town of Lee Signs Host Community Agreement with Sweetgrass Botanicals/Extractions

Town of Lee Signs Host Community Agreement with Sweetgrass Botanicals/Extractions

The town of Lee has taken a significant step forward in its relationship with the cannabis industry by signing a Host Community Agreement (HCA) with Sweetgrass Botanicals LLC and Sweetgrass Extractions LLC. This agreement, approved by the town Select Board on June 4, outlines the terms and conditions under which Sweetgrass will operate within the town.

Sweetgrass Botanicals, owned by Cassandra Purdy, opened its doors in January on Laurel Street/Route 20. The facility serves as both a cannabis dispensary and a manufacturer, featuring an on-site hashish-extraction lab. The new HCA aligns with recent regulations set forth by the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission (CCC), ensuring compliance with state laws.

The agreement was signed during a Select Board meeting, with most of Sweetgrass’s employees present and the company’s representative, Peter D’Agostino, participating online. The contract will remain in effect for five years, until June 2029. The HCA follows the model form suggested by the CCC, which includes a community impact fee of up to three percent of Sweetgrass’s gross sales. This fee is intended to cover any additional burdens on local services, such as law enforcement and fire protection.

However, under the new regulations, the town must now provide invoices to justify these expenditures. This change addresses concerns raised in recent litigation involving community impact fees (CIFs) in Berkshire County and other municipalities. Critics argued that these fees were often imposed without proof of actual expenses incurred by the town.

Peter D’Agostino expressed gratitude for the town’s cooperation, stating, “We clearly appreciate the town’s work on this with us.” He also highlighted the positive relationship between Sweetgrass and the town of Lee, emphasizing the facility’s commitment to being a responsible local business.

Chair Gordon Bailey, who reviewed the document with Town Administrator Christopher Brittain, noted that the new HCA complies with Chapter 180 of state law. He explained that the town would no longer ask for CIFs upfront. Instead, these fees will be billed in December, marking the anniversary of Sweetgrass’s opening. “The agreement does spell out they still owe taxes and water and sewer—the normal, standard things any business would,” Bailey added.

Board member Sean Regnier echoed Bailey’s sentiments, explaining that the town would wait to bill for actual costs incurred, such as police details. Board member Robert “Bob” Jones recused himself from the discussion and vote.

In addition to the HCA, the Select Board addressed other matters during the June 4 meeting. They approved a temporary sign permit and fee waiver for the First Congregational Church’s craft fair, reappointed Sean Regnier to the Berkshire Regional Transit Authority Advisory Board, and appointed three members to the Public Safety Building Committee.

The signing of the HCA with Sweetgrass Botanicals marks a new chapter for the town of Lee, reflecting its commitment to working collaboratively with local businesses while adhering to state regulations. This agreement not only ensures that Sweetgrass operates responsibly but also provides a framework for addressing any community impacts that may arise.

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