Sunderland’s first potential pot shop holds outreach meeting

  • Gracious Greens LLC consultant Peter D’Agostini led the business’ community outreach meeting this week as the company seeks to become Sunderland’s first marijuana retailer. SCREENSHOT


Staff Writer
Monday, December 13, 2021

SUNDERLAND — A consultant for a company that wants to open the town’s first retail marijuana store assured town officials that the cannabis market in the region is not oversaturated, despite three other shops in the area that are either open or have permits in hand to open.

“When you look at the state as a whole, there’s 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts and 180 have banned it. You’re at about 50% of total towns that have this as an option,” said Peter D’Agostino, a consultant for Gracious Greens LLC, which wants to open a recreational marijuana dispensary at 267 Amherst Road, Suite 2. “Others have further limited it to only 20% of their liquor stores. When you do the math, the industry as a whole is running about 10% statewide of total liquor stores.”

His comments were made at a community outreach meeting hosted last month by Gracious Greens as the first step toward bringing the industry to Sunderland.

D’Agostino gave a short presentation about how the company will operate and answered several questions from the public.

“Our goal is to be a good partner … an overall net positive to our neighbors, which include residents and businesses,” D’Agostino said.

D’Agostino said this store would be Gracious Greens’ “first cannabis experience,” although principal owner Stephen Van Ostrad has operated retailers selling age-restricted products through liquor licenses in New York.

Town Administrator Geoff Kravitz asked how much revenue Gracious Greens is projected to earn in its first year of operation.

“From a general perspective, $6 million to $8 million gross revenue would be a reasonable expectation,” D’Agostino said.

“We feel like this is a pretty good spot, there’s some traffic from people going to and from work … that could certainly help business.”

Expanding on that thought, Planning Board Chair Dana Roscoe asked if it is really feasible to open a marijuana dispensary when there is a permitted store a few miles down the road in Amherst and two permitted dispensaries — that have yet to be opened — a few miles north at the former Sugarloaf Shoppes in Whately.

“Is there really a $6 million market?” Roscoe inquired. “It seems like we’ve kind of saturated the distribution of this product.”

D’Agostino said “it may feel” like there are too many dispensaries clustered together, but in the context of the entire state, there are not that many. He added there tend to be “pockets” of stores around the state as some communities are more “accepting of cannabis.”

School Committee member Peter Gagarin said the town has had problems with “absentee landlords” with the town’s rental properties and asked Van Ostrad if he will be directly involved in the store’s operations.

“I will be there five of seven days a week,” Van Ostrad replied. “Our goal is to be a part of the town.”

Van Ostrad added he would like to hear input on how his business can help improve the town as they try to become a “productive partner.”

“We’re going to come to the town and ask to see where we can help them out,” Van Ostrad said. “We’re in it for the long haul.”

From here, Gracious Greens must receive a host community agreement from the Select Board before applying for a license with the state Cannabis Control Commission. After that, the business must appear before the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals for a special permit before the store can be opened.