|The meeting was held in the community room of Lanesborough Town Hall.|
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. Residents questioned water use and the deteriorating condition of the building at a community information session on a proposed cannabis facility at the Berkshire Mall.
On Monday, applicant Blake Mensing of JMJ Holdings presented the group’s preliminary plans for the facility, which include converting the former anchor stores into manufacturing and cultivation facilities. The The Select Board approved negotiations for a host community agreement with the company in Julywhich Mensing says is still a work in progress.
“We are proposing a marijuana product manufacturing license, a marijuana cultivation license, and an existing licensed carrier license,” he told the 30 or so community members in attendance. “… These are the permits we’re applying for in some of the malls we intend to occupy. The rest of the mall we intend to lease or sell to other people who want to make various parts of the cannabis supply chain.”
According to Mensing, the plans are to use the former JC Penney, about 51,000 square feet of retail space, for their licenses, which would create about 35 new jobs.
Several residents expressed concern about potential problems with the facility’s water use and sewage. Mensing wasn’t sure exactly how much water the facility will be able to use once it’s up and running, but said it will adhere to restrictions imposed by the water district.
“We’re going to do what the water district requires to get the rights and buy the water, whatever the rate is,” he said.
Most of the facility’s water comes to the city through Pittsfield.
Regarding the condition of the building, which was mentioned by several residents, Mensing said his group intends to do all the necessary work to get the facility up and running. He said that minor aesthetic improvements are also planned for the exterior of the building.
“We certainly didn’t go in blindfolded,” he said. “We knew there were warts around the building and obviously something that hadn’t been used in years was going to cause problems.”
Odors from the facility were another issue raised by residents. Mensing said the grow rooms are planned to be sealed off, along with a charcoal filtration system to keep odors from escaping.
“It’s entirely in our interest [to contain odors]we have such a long way to go in terms of regulatory hurdles, manufacturing costs and compliance costs,” he said. “If there are odors coming out of this building, it means we designed it very poorly.”
Mensing said the group plans to partner with the Big Hope Project, a nonprofit organization that aims to direct aid to communities disproportionately affected by the war on drugs. He said that they are ready to cooperate with all interested local organizations.
“We’re open to talking to any nonprofit that’s doing things that are fundamentally in line with our founding ideals,” he said.
Mensing said he wasn’t sure of a specific timeline, but noted that the facility could theoretically open in about a year.
“If we were open by this time next year, things would be very smooth at the state level. But I’d say that’s probably more like 18 months away,” he said.
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