ORLEANS — Two prospective marijuana businesses, Ember Gardens and Seaside Joint Ventures, got the OK from the Orleans Select Board on Wednesday night to work out host agreements with the town.
Dune Wellness was selected as the alternate should either company fail to make it through permitting, leaving two additional applicants, the Strain and Bwell, out in the cold.
Much of the discussion centered on the scoring system town officials developed to rank the applicants in 14 categories. The town can permit only two retail outlets for cannabis under zoning rules.
The applicants were ranked on experience in the industry, business experience in Orleans, the soundness of their business plan, youth safety, abuse prevention, commitment to diversity and local hiring, traffic and parking, security, employee training and overall completeness of the application.
The hope, as Town Administrator John Kelly said, was that numerical rankings would sort out the applications, providing some separation based on rigorous grading in what was essentially a procurement process. Instead it produced a virtual four-way tie.
Ember Gardens had the highest combined average at 100.8 followed by Bwell at 99.8, Seaside Joint Venture at 97.2, Dune Wellness at 96.6 and the Strain at 80.
Ember Gardens has proposed to open on the four-lane section of Route 6A opposite the Lobster Claw and next to Nauset Marine. The Lobster Claw has closed and will become a medical center if all plans are approved.
The Ember Gardens building is currently a home that once held a blacksmith shop. It would expand the building with an addition, maintain the Cape Cod façade, and add parking and another exit.
“Our goal is to fit into the Cape and to enhance it. It’s a beautiful old property,” Chief Operating Officer Dan Gillan told board members. Ember also has been approved to operate a retail shop on Newbury Street in Boston.
Gillan vowed that the business would deal with traffic on Route 6A.
“That’s a valid concern,” Gillian said. “Our plan there is robust. We plan plenty of parking as well as a two lane road in and out. So we will expand the driveway. We are also planning with the local police for any traffic detail that may be needed.”
Seaside Joint Ventures has proposed opening its shop at 14 Lots Hollow Road in what was an insurance office on 0.85 acres flanked on both sides by an Agway operation. The municipal transfer station is on Lots Hollow Road as well as the wick wells for the sewage treatment plant (both under construction). That’s also the way to a Toyota dealership and Charles Moore ice rink.
Board member Kevin Galligan made a motion to invite Seaside Joint Ventures to negotiate a host agreement with Orleans.
“If you’re talking about parking issues and traffic they’ll be the biggest problem,” board member Cecil Newcomb said. “If you look at their $18 million projection (in revenue) that’s 190,000 cars a year going in and out. That’s an enormous number of vehicles coupled with the dump, Agway and construction there. It’ll be a traffic nightmare.”
In its deliberations, the Select Board was asked to weigh favorably on local connections and business experience on the scorecards.
A.J. Luke of Luke Liquors is the director of inventory of Seaside Joint Ventures, Dave Currier, owner of The Alley Bowling and BBQ in Orleans, and a former select board member, is director of operations. Tim McNamara, of Mashpee, is the general counsel.
“Once we get the manufacturing in place maybe we’ll have up to 25 employees,” McNamara told the board. “The application is based on starting as retail and we’ll build out the manufacturing capacity. It’ll be a warehouse model where we can receive products and where we can deliver.”
Ember Gardens’ Gillan said he and his friend Matt Griffin met with the Route 6A location property owners Mary Ann Tagliaferri and her husband, Fred Fulcher, and created Ember Gardens Cape Cod LLC. Other partners and officers are from Somerset, Fall River and Plymouth.
During the discussion about the applicants, board member Andrea Reed said comments from the public and their sentiment weren’t part of the criteria and should be considered. Chairman Meff Runyon said the board didn’t need to make a decision that night.
Galligan said each applicant had penned a $10,000 check to the town and the board should move things along.
The retail shops will need a special permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals, which would hold hearings where traffic and comments from neighbors can be discussed.