McGonagle Breaks With Haverhill Administration Over Cannabis Impact Fee, Stem Says


A Haverhill city councilor publicly broke with the city administration’s stance on cannabis “impact fees” last week and accepted a ceremonial check in uncontested payments from a downtown retailer.

Standing outside City Hall Thursday, Councilor Michael S. McGonagle accepted a ceremonial check for $ 365,796 from Stem Haverhill owner Caroline Pineau. The amount represents the local option tax payments to the city during the first year of Stem’s operation. McGonagle told WHAV why he is supporting the local retailer.

“I don’t think Caroline got the credit for what she did when she opened her business. She has an economic empowerment designation, and she came and didn’t ask to receive anything, ”he said.

Payouts reflect 3% of Stem’s gross sales and do not include any disputed amounts. Stem, who has filed a lawsuit against Haverhill, argues that she should not pay the additional 3% fee because the business has caused no negative impacts and the city has identified none.

In response to Stem’s complaint, the city argues that the 124 Washington St. company must pay a “community impact” fee, not necessarily because of state law, but because the he adult-use marijuana company agreed to do so in a contract. Haverhill added that it was too early to document the “impacts” that Stem could have caused, particularly in light of the health pandemic and that insufficient time had passed to verify and negotiate the costs. impact on the community. The case will be heard in court next month.

The city councilor said there might have been an appropriate time to consider the potential negative impacts, but the city did not do so at that time.

“We could have hired school counselors. We could have done polls. We could have done some things before that could happen later and we didn’t. I think, and I said it, I think we made a mistake, ”he said.

McGonagle said Stem’s represents the type of business the city needs.

“The city seems to continue to sue this young woman for certain things that might not be appropriate for us, impact charges because there has been no impact except positive,” he said.

Although he admits buying and selling a building that will house his brothers-in-law’s Mellow Fellows cannabis store, the city councilor said he had no investment in the industry.

“It has been an incredible first year of operation, albeit trying, given the challenges posed by the pandemic,” Pineau said in a statement, adding, “But, we couldn’t be happier to be able to create jobs. , serve our wonderful customers and help with tax payments to help the Town of Haverhill and its citizens.

In addition to sales taxes, Stem donated $ 51,571 in donations to Haverhill-based charities, created 25 full-time and part-time jobs, its various employees contributed 104 hours of community service and the company paid an additional $ 13,667 to the city in property taxes.

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