Exchange Street cannabis greenhouse hearing continued

  • Wayne Elibero, representing 1620 Labs, LLC testifies before Athol’s Planning Board on a plan to expand the company’s marijuana cultivation operation at 1 Exchange Street in Athol. photo/Greg Vine

  • Wayne Elibero, representing 1620 Labs, LLC. —Greg Vine

  • The former Agway property at 1 Exchange St., Athol. ATHOL DAILY NEWS/DEBORRAH PORTER

For the Athol Daily News
Published: 3/8/2019 6:00:07 PM
Modified: 3/8/2019 6:00:16 PM

ATHOL — The Athol Planning Board opened a public hearing Wednesday night on a request by 1620 Labs, LLC to expand marijuana cultivation operations at its facility at 1 Exchange Street. In May of last year, the board approved a special permit for the company to operate a recreational cannabis cultivation and processing facility at the former Agway building.

Wayne Elibero, representing 1620 Labs, told the board, “We received our provisional license from the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission in November and started renovating the building. When we got into more of the details of what was allowed by the state – we were granted a Tier I license on this building, which is a canopy of up to 5,000 square feet.”

“We had gone in originally,” said Elibero, “for a license that also included the property that we own in front, which is 503 South Street and 20 Tunnel Street. The state did not have the capacity to grant us one license based on the multiple addresses, so they granted us one license for 1 Exchange Street, and we ended up being forced back into the queue for 503 South Street and 20 Tunnel Street. So, the license for that property is still pending.”

Elibero explained that the state measures grow canopy, and that the state defines “canopy” as any space occupied by a mature plant. It’s not based on the square-footage of the room the plants are actually in, but on the actual space that the plant takes up. Based on that definition, he said the company saw that they weren’t maximizing their grow canopy for this building and thought a viable, and cost-efficient, and energy-efficient solution to maximize their grow canopy would be to add two greenhouses.

“One would be to replace an existing tool shed, which is located to the east of the facility,” said Elibero. “The total square footage of that greenhouse is 3,300 square feet. In the rear of the building, or west side of the building, there would be an additional 2,100 square foot greenhouse.”

Elibero said the greenhouses are designed specifically for marijuana cultivation, made of polycarbon plating, “which is virtually unbreakable,” he said, “We plan on having radiant heat to help keep the greenhouse warm.”

The security for the property will both on the interior, with cameras, and the exterior with cameras, as well as with motion detectors and glass breakage sensors. “Not that these can break,” he said, “but we’ll do this as a precaution. They also have their own odor-mitigation systems, which are state of the art.”

Elibero said 1620 Labs has, as required, submitted plans for the renovation of the old Agway building, as for the construction of the greenhouses, to the Cannabis Control Commission.

“This zone, which is the G – General – zone already allows for greenhouses,” he concluded. “But the fact we got a special permit associated with cannabis – that’s why we’re here; just to ask for a modification to construct these greenhouses.”

Board Chairman David Small noted that 1620 Labs had reached out to several town agencies and noted that neither the police, fire, or public works departments had problems with the company’s proposal. It was noted that company officials spoke with Public Works Director Dough Walsh regarding issues of wastewater disposal from the cultivation operation. Small added that the Board of Health had no issues.

Select Board member Rebecca Bialecki, who was in the audience, noted that “there has been a tremendous amount of vandalism along the railroad tracks, which would be right behind where your greenhouses would be sited. Will there actually be a human being out there patrolling the property or is it just cameras?”

Elibero said 1620 Labs plans on constructing a taller chain link fence between the tracks and the site of the greenhouses than currently exists, adding the facility would have manned security, particularly on the overnight hours.

The public hearing was continued until 7:05 p.m. on Wednesday, April 3.

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