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Abutters’ concerns over Petersham Road marijuana processing facility addressed

  • Rebecca Rutenberg from law firm Vicente Sederberg, LLP answers questions from abutters to the proposed marijuana cultivation and processing facility at 706 Petersham Rd., at the Athol Board of Planning and Community Development meeting earlier this week. In the foreground are Rutenberg and Eric Lane from Hayes Engineering. Athol Daily News/Kathy Chaisson

Staff Writer
Published: 7/12/2019 9:55:17 PM
Modified: 7/12/2019 9:55:05 PM

ATHOL – Public hearings at the Board of Planning and Community Development meeting drew a small crowd that filled the seats in Room 21 at the Town Hall Wednesday night.

A hearing for the Licensed Marijuana Establishment Special Permit application for The Botanist, Inc. for marijuana cultivation and processing, on property located at 706 Petersham Rd., addressed concerns collected from a previous public hearing. Spokesperson Rebecca Rutenberg said a fence has been added to the plan to increase security. She said The Botanist does not expect to create any visual impacts, including lighting which will be confined to the property. Regarding traffic concerns, Rutenberg said there’s nothing to compare it to because the site is currently vacant.

The production facility will house the manufacturing portion of the business with four greenhouses for cultivation, according to The Botanist general manager Chris Tolford. Within the facility will be packaging, flower trimming and oil processing. The facility would employ 50 to 75 people ranging from entry level to craftsman jobs, he said.

Abutter Kris Burns, who lives across the street from the proposed facility and who has previously expressed her concern about the neighborhood impact, said she is hugely concerned about odor control. Rutenberg said should concerns arise, the company would identify whether the odor is connected to the facility, and Tolford said they would take a proactive approach to fix it.

Athol Town Planner Eric Smith added that if there is a problem, Building Inspector Bob Legare, who is also on the Zoning Board, will handle it. Jean Miller of Petersham Road said she is not “anti-marijuana,” but has read extensively about how bad the odor can get. “We want this to be a great experience,” to be able to work together to prevent it from happening, she said. Chair David Small said the Board will look at plans carefully before getting to the construction phase and deliberate at the next meeting to go over conditions now that there is a template to work with.

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