Selectmen voted 3-2 Monday to sign a letter of non-opposition to a medical marijuana cultivation facility proposed by Xiphias Wellness Inc. They agreed that Town Manager David A. Genereux would pull together components of a host community agreement, which selectmen are to discuss at their next meeting.
Lawyer Valerio Romano, representing Xiphias Wellness, told selectmen that the law recently signed by Gov. Charlie Baker caps payments in host agreements at 3 percent, and the payments must go toward uses related to mitigation, such as drug abuse prevention programs or additional police patrols.
Selectman Jeffrey Shaw, who with Selectman Jennifer Modica opposed signing the letter, said he wanted to know what was in the host agreement first.
“Up until July, when the governor signed the law, host community agreements were essentially extortion,” Mr. Romano said.
Selectman Peter Baghdasarian agreed with Mr. Romano.
Recent community host agreements that Xiphias Wellness has proposed to other towns include payments amounting to $100,000 annually, or 1.25 percent of sales, in Fitchburg, and in Amesbury, payments of up to $55,000 a year, according to Mr. Romano. He said Cambridge declined payments but asked that the company instead lower the price of medical marijuana to its customers there.
The proposed Uxbridge marijuana growing facility would be located in an existing 20,000-square-foot building at 1045 Quaker Highway.
Mr. Romano told selectmen the cannabis grown there would be worth $14 million to $15 million.
“We’re not Amazon,” Mr. Romano said, referring to an earlier discussion by selectmen about submitting a bid to the online retail giant Amazon to locate a second North American headquarters in town. “But we are coming to try to bring some business, some employment … some tax revenue.”
Selectman Justin Piccirillo, board chairman, had suggested the town throw its hat in the ring for Amazon, calling it a “very interesting opportunity.” Seeking bids, the company announced last week it planned to invest more than $5 billion in construction and bring in 50,000 high-paying jobs.
The majority of the board did not go along with him, however. A motion for town officials to prepare a bid by the mid-October deadline did not succeed, with Selectman James Hogan joining Mr. Piccirillo in support and Selectman Peter Baghdasarian, Mr. Shaw and Ms. Modica opposed.
“I’d like to remind the board that at one point there were active mills in this town that supported this town,” Mr. Piccirillo said. “The town of Uxbridge has been looking to fill that void for some time.”
But other selectmen pointed to the lack of direct access to mass transit and the prospect of bringing traffic and other demands that the town couldn’t handle.
“It would fundamentally change the make-up of the town,” Mr. Shaw said.
Planning Board Vice Chairman Barry Desruisseaux supported Mr. Piccirillo’s suggestion. “Thirty years ago, Hopkinton was probably the same way. And then a small company named EMC came up,” he told selectmen. “To me, if you don’t take a chance, you’re never going to know.”
Mr. Desruisseaux added that although it would be a one-in-a-million shot to attract Amazon, Uxbridge’s bid might gain the attention of other businesses.