Dozens took to the streets prior to the Board of Selectmen meeting to protest against a CVS Pharmacy that leased space from owner of the former Colella's plaza Waltham Based "Crosspoint Associates". A protestor told HCAM News: "It's a small town and a small community and we don't want a CVS here, we want Hopkinton Drug and that's it."
At the meeting residents got the chance to discuss the CVS with Selectmen. One resident criticized the Selectmen for not being more proactive in stopping CVS, Chair Ben Palleiko responded stating that it was a private transaction and the Selectmen have no control over it "we can't inject ourselves unless they need something from us, which in this case they didn't."
Selectmen Brian Herr felt the CVS lease was very sneaky and did not agree with the way it was done. "In my 14 years on the planning board, zoning advisory committee, Board of Selectmen.... I have never seen a business come to town and try to ram something down our throats as this current situation is playing out." Herr also stated that he would like to explore the town purchasing the land. Later in the meeting Chair Ben Palleiko had to ask Herr to calm down as he got more fired up about the discussion.
Town Counsel Ray Miyares was also in attendance to discuss the legality of the CVS and stated that the property owner Crosspoint Associates would have to go through the town if any location changes in the building of the liquor store or CVS were made. If the liquor license of the current liquor store changes hands it would also have to go through the town.
A few residents argued that CVS is more of a health institution than a retail store, therefore it would be a zoning violation for a CVS to open in the 61 main street plaza. One resident stated that there is a 2012 bylaw excluding health services. In response, Town Manager Norman Khumalo read a quote from land use Planning and Permitting Director Elaine Lazarus that stated health care facilities are not allowed in the downtown business district. "A health services facility is not allowed by right nor by special permit in the downtown business district."
An emotional Dennis Katz, Owner of Hopkinton Drug was on hand to thank Hopkinton Drug supporters. "This is an opportunity for us to thank the community for coming up and being supportive of us, it's very humbling, I never dreamed of this, ever. You've definitely made a change in my life, I thank you so very much, we are not going anywhere, we are going to try very hard, we're one store, we're not 9,000, it's going to be a heck of a challenge but we're going to stand up and take that challenge as best we know how."
After the public discussion the Board of Selectmen chair Ben Palleiko made it clear that no decision would be reached during the night and a lot more discussion is still to come, but the conversation helped determine what needs to be disscuessed in future meetings. The next Board of Selectmen meeting can be seen live on HCAM Tuesday July 14th at 6:45pm.
To see highlights of the CVS protest and discussion, watch the video below.