WESTFIELD, Mass. (The Westfield News) – During Mayor Brian P. Sullivan’s briefing to the City Council on Thursday, he asked for consideration and approval of a Host Community Agreement (HCA) with Heka Health Incorporated, a not-for-profit corporation at 98 Sgt. TM Dion Way. The agreement was referred to the Legislation & Ordinance Committee meeting on March 30.
Heka Health is the medical marijuana facility that was approved by Westfield’s Planning Board one year ago.
At the meeting, Sullivan said that city advancement office Joseph Mitchell had done very well for Westfield in the negotiations. Mitchell said that under the state statute that allowed for medical marijuana, the state allowed the cities and towns in the Commonwealth to negotiate their own HCAs. He said the state identifies the roles and responsibilities of each party, but the community gets to negotiate some funds to help mitigate the impact the business will have on the community.
Mitchell said the state did not set guidelines for the amount a city or town can request, but as these businesses have become more common in the Commonwealth, the industry standard has become 3% of gross sales annually.
“We think we did pretty well,” Mitchell said. Westfield negotiated the 3% plus an additional 1% for a road improvement fee. Heka needed a sewer line, and received permission to install one, digging up the road to put the sewer in under city supervision. The additional 1% that was negotiated is for a utilities and infrastructure fee for the repair of Sgt. TM Dion Way.
“It’s going to help us,” Mitchell said. Added to Chapter 90 funds, it will allow the city to apply a focus to the area that may include the intersection with Southampton Road.
Mitchell said some of the early towns that permitted medical marijuana facilities didn’t quite get 3%, or if they did, the percentage got smaller over time. “We have 3% for the life of the agreement,” he said.
In addition to the HCA, the state did establish an Abuse Prevention Payment of $25,000 annually to be used by the Board of Health for prevention and education programs.
Heka Health is still under construction, Mitchell said, adding that he has been told it will open before the end of the year.
He said the agreement came before the City Council to allow the Mayor to sign the document, which he said they had been working on for a year. “We’ve got something that we’re happy with and so is Heka Health. Now we’re asking for permission to execute this document,” Mitchell said.