Extra permit allows Whately marijuana company to extend growing season

  • With hopes of extending its growing season, Debilitating Medical Condition Treatment Centers (DMCTC) has acquired a special permit for indoor marijuana cultivation to supplement its outdoor growing facility at 7 River Road in Whately, pictured near the Hatfield town line. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 11/20/2022 8:19:51 PM

WHATELY — With hopes of extending its growing season, Debilitating Medical Condition Treatment Centers (DMCTC) has acquired a special permit for indoor marijuana cultivation to supplement its outdoor growing facility at 7 River Road.

The company, which was initially approved for outdoor marijuana cultivation in 2020, sought at last week’s Zoning Board of Appeals meeting to bring its site into conformance with Whately’s amended zoning bylaws. At 2021’s Annual Town Meeting, voters approved changing the zoning bylaws to define indoor marijuana cultivation as any cannabis plant growing inside a greenhouse or any other fully enclosed structure. Prior to this amendment, DMCTC referred to the state Cannabis Control Commission’s definition of outdoor growing, which prohibits growing marijuana plants with artificial light, with an exception for propagating plants in a greenhouse nursery, according to the special permit application.

Chris Chamberland, a Berkshire Design Group engineer representing DMCTC, said there are no exterior changes to the site plan beyond adding some lights to the greenhouse to continue growing adult plants as days get shorter. Existing lights are allowed for propagating plants in the nursery only.

“What we have now is a legally existing, non-conforming site,” Chamberland said. “The real purpose of this change is to add lighting to extend the season, so in the dark time of the month, the plants can grow faster.”

The greenhouses, Chamberland explained, will use blackout curtains to avoid disturbing neighbors at night. Residents at a recent Planning Board meeting raised complaints about lights being on late at night in the nursery and it was soon discovered that staff forgot to close the curtains, which were on a manual control switch. According to the special permit application, DMCTC is in the process of installing a timer on the curtains to prevent the issue from reoccurring.

The Zoning Board of Appeals had only a few questions for Chamberland, with member Debra Carney asking if DMCTC plans to pursue solar energy to power the greenhouse lights. Chamberland said the Planning Board asked a similar question and DMCTC is doing “a little more homework” on the matter.

The ZBA unanimously approved DMCTC’s special permit, with members noting they are happy with how the company has been working with the town. Alternate Fred Orloski voted in place of Robert Smith, who was absent.

“It’s a good plan, well-thought out,” Orloski commented. “The activity going on at the site right now, I think is very positive. It’s a good project in total.”

All product cultivated at 7 River Road is brought next door to 3 River Road, where DMCTC operates a marijuana manufacturing facility. The company is also in the process of opening a dispensary at the former Sugarloaf Shoppes on Routes 5 and 10. In July, DMCTC Director Jared Glanz-Berger said the company has set its roots down in Whately.

“We’re a vertically integrated company within the four walls of Whately, which I think is pretty cool,” Glanz-Berger said. “We’ve been really successful at getting operational on the wholesale side and that’s where we’ve focused our efforts for now.”

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com or 413-930-4081.


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