Root 2 Naturals seeks license for marijuana business

  • A hearing for a special permit application for a marijuana cultivation and processing business at 201 Daniel Shays Highway was held during the Athol Board of Planning and Community Development meeting Wednesday night. Standing, left, attorney Richard M. Evans and his clients from Root 2 Naturals LLC, Paul M. Pace, at computer, and in foreground, Paul V. Pace and Frank Pace. Athol Daily News/Kathy Chaisson

Staff Writer
Published: 9/6/2019 9:56:19 PM
Modified: 9/6/2019 9:56:07 PM

ATHOL – The Board of Planning and Community Development on Wednesday reviewed and discussed two zoning bylaw amendments, including one for solar installations, and accepted a special permit application by Root 2 Naturals, LLC for a licensed marijuana establishment on property located at 201 Daniel Shays Highway.

The proposed purpose language of town bylaws for ground-mounted solar photovoltaic installations was reviewed which provides standards for the placement, design, construction, operation, monitoring, modification and removal and addresses public safety, minimizes impact and provides financial assurance for the eventual decommissioning of the installations. The bylaw also aims to balance the rights of landowners and maintain the character of the town.

The proposed language is a recommendation based on a study done by Tufts University students. The terms “maintenance” and “environmental effects” were inadvertently left out of the version presented to the Board and will be amended and the updated language voted on at the next meeting.

Town Planner Eric Smith presented applicability provisions regarding large-scale, ground-mounted photovoltaic systems in Athol and other Massachusetts towns. Current bylaws in Athol apply to commercial and residential solar installations greater than 5,000 gross square feet and are subject to the State Building Code. The BPCD is currently conducting a survey for residents to answer questions and share comments about the solar installations. Smith said he has received 78 responses so far.

Paul M. Pace of Root 2 Naturals, LLC told the Board they are looking to get into the cannabis market by opening a marijuana cultivation and processing business on the former Hancock Motors property on Daniel Shays Highway. During his slide presentation, Pace explained that they would be wholesalers at the lowest level of cultivation and are isolated from schools and parks. They plan to put pervious decorative stones for water permeation and other landscaping, along with a security fence with an entrance that is set back from the highway. He said there would be six to eight employees to start and it will not be open to the public. There would be no significant traffic except for staff, subcontractors, first responders and town regulators.

Two buildings are planned for the site with 24-hour surveillance and the possibility of expansion. One building would be used as an office and storage and the other as cultivation space. Pace said they are going to be in compliance with the Cannabis Control Commission and that they want to have an “inconspicuous presence.”

There will be a “multi-faceted” approach to odor control, including sealed grow rooms, air filtration and a neutralizing agent so that there’s nothing people can smell outdoors. “We take that seriously,” Pace said.

All products would be tracked and documented and Pace said they will aim to be sustainable by trying to use the plants as much as possible without throwing anything away.

Board chair David Small said one of the conditions would include approval by the Conservation Commission because the site is riverfront property. The hearing was continued to the next meeting with the Board’s request for the applicants to work out subsequent details before the October meeting.

The board reviewed and voted unanimously in favor of a draft updating zoning language that would allow Kyle Dorow of 124 Glendale Ave. the ability to use his garage for auto repair services as an accessory home occupation in the Residential-C Zoning District, subject to a Special Permit. The language was reviewed by town counsel for the October 21 Town Meeting. The amendment also adds home-based internet businesses and computer/software repair.

The deadline for those interested in taking part in the Athol Zoning Survey on Large Ground-Mounted Commercial Solar Array is Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019. There are 15 questions with comment sections. The survey is downloadable at, or it can be done online via: Completed surveys can be mailed to Town of Athol, c/0 Eric R. Smith, AICP, Director of Planning and Community Development, 584 Main St., Athol, MA 01331 or deposited in the drop box outside Town Hall.

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