Bernardston Planning Board grants construction permit to marijuana growers

  • Site work has begun at 87 Northfield Road (Route 10), where Happy Valley Compassion Center is building a medical marijuana grow facility. Dec. 1, 2017. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

Recorder Staff
Friday, December 08, 2017

BERNARDSTON — Happy Valley Compassion Center representatives officially have the special permit they need to build a medical marijuana grow facility at 87 Northfield Road.

After continuing their public hearing from last week, the Planning Board granted the special permit Thursday, allowing the nonprofit medical marijuana organization to move forward with its plans to construct a 20,000-square-foot steel building on the 7.66-acre lot it leases from Sandri Companies through Crumpin-Fox.

Passersby on Northfield Road (Route 10) may have noticed the upturned heaps of soil, as workers have already begun site work in preparation for the anticipated construction.

Happy Valley Compassion Center Chief Executive Officer Jim Counihan thanked the board for its support and said the company is looking forward to being a part of Bernardston.

“We want this to be a spirited partnership,” he said, addressing the board and residents who attended the hearing. “We want to be here for many decades to come.”

The primary concern discussed at length was the draw the facility would have on the town’s water supply. Bernardston Fire and Water District Commissioner Jack Patch felt confident the town could support the new building, which would require 3,600 gallons of water per day under routine operation. However, Patch said he’s working with the state in hopes of increasing the amount of water the town is permitted to pump.

Patch said residents won’t experience a change in water pressure unless the grow facility’s sprinkler system goes off, which would temporarily affect pressure. Happy Valley Compassion Center, he said, will also need to pay for a new water main to be installed across Route 10 to support the sprinkler system.

Happy Valley Compassion Center Chief Financial Officer Patrick Cloney said the organization is looking into the feasibility of having a well installed, but worried about the financial impact installation would have while the company is trying to get off the ground.

“It’s our intention to get all the information to make an informed decision,” he said. “That cost and that process could make the business completely unviable.”

In the event of future expansion — which the lot’s size would support — Happy Valley Compassion Center will again need to seek approval from the board.

All town boards and departments were invited to issue comment to the Planning Board regarding issuance of the special permit. While no concerns were expressed, the Green Committee hoped the new building would incorporate renewable energy, like solar power, or a rain garden. Cloney said the facility is being designed to accept solar panels.

Reach Shelby Ashline at:

413-772-0261 ext. 257