Marijuana cultivator seeks OK to open in Belchertown

  • A marijuana leaf AP PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 12/10/2020 11:16:04 AM
Modified: 12/10/2020 11:15:54 AM

BELCHERTOWN — The town may soon be home to a marijuana cultivation facility if the Select Board signs off on a community host agreement with an eastern Massachusetts company for a site off Route 181.

Representatives for Minuteman Farm, based in Ashby, are seeking permission to grow marijuana at 401 Mill Valley Road in the south end of town, the same site where plans for another marijuana cultivation business fell through earlier this year.

At a virtual Select Board meeting on Monday, Belchertown attorney Richard Maynard, who is representing Minuteman Farm, said the project requires the town to approve a special permit as well as the community host agreement. He said the draft proposal before the board is similar to past host agreements that the town has utilized for marijuana cultivation and retail businesses.

Select Board Chairwoman Gail Gramarossa said that High Peaks Dispensary previously came before the board seeking approval for cultivation at the 401 Mill Valley location.

“It looks as though the lease has been discontinued between the owner of the property at 401 Mill Valley Road and High Peaks. That group is not looking to use that property,” Gramarossa said. “Attorney Maynard, my question is, ‘Are you in the process of working with the property owner there to get a lease confirmed and signed?’”

Maynard confirmed that the lease with High Peaks has been terminated and that Minuteman Farm is in the process of signing its own lease with the property owner.

“Frankly, we expect to have it fully signed and on release before the end of the month, contingent on the whole approval of the community host agreement,” he added.

Richard Barry, owner of Minuteman Farm, told the board that the business has received a license from the Cannabis Control Commission for 5,000 square feet of cultivation space in its marijuana growing operation. The company plans on investing up to $500,000 in the property, he said.

Belchertown has signed host community agreements with two marijuana dispensaries: Springfield-based marijuana dispensary Kalyx LLC and Stow-based Evergreen Strategies, both in 2019. Mobile, Alabama-based American Cannabis Co. is also seeking an agreement with the town to operate a dispensary.

Minuteman Farm was previously looking to open a site that Barry owns on Munsel Road in Belchertown, but he shifted gears when the chance to house the business on Mill Valley Road opened up.

“I said, ‘Well, I would be interested in doing a smaller facility in Belchertown, especially in a location that has been previously approved without going through all of the things that you’d have to do to get it approved on Munsel Road,’’ he added.

Gramarossa said the switch to Mill Valley Road would likely alleviate resident concerns voiced earlier this year about the Munsel Road location. “The board has looked at this location as one that would be very appropriate for marijuana cultivation,” she added.

Select Board member Jim Barry, who is not related to the applicant, suggested that the special permit for High Peaks be dissolved before the town issues a cultivation permit to Minuteman Farm. The board agreed. Minutemen Farm is tentatively set to return before the board on Monday with further documentation.

The next steps after that for Minutemen Farm would involve hosting a community outreach event, as well as gaining a host community agreement and special permit from the Select Board. A site evaluation would also be required from the Planning Board.

Chris Goudreau can be reached at cgoudreau@gazettenet.com.


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