Board hears Heirloom Collective’s plans to grow cannabis biz in Bernardston

  • The Heirloom Collective on Northfield Road (Route 10) in Bernardston is seeking to expand. The Heirloom Collective has applied for a special permit to build a 40,455-square-foot addition to its cannabis grow facility and construct a 4,500-square-foot office and retail dispensary. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Project manager Richard Marcks, left, and civil engineer David Frothingham answer a question from a Bernardston Planning Board member (unseen) during Tuesday’s public hearing at Town Hall regarding The Heirloom Collective’s special permit application proposing a 40,455-square-foot addition to its cannabis grow facility on Northfield Road (Route 10) and the construction of a 4,500-square-foot office and retail dispensary. STAFF PHOTO/DOMENIC POLI

Staff Writer
Published: 7/28/2021 5:41:09 PM

BERNARDSTON — The Planning Board continued to Aug. 24 a public hearing regarding a special permit application proposing a 40,455-square-foot addition to its cannabis grow facility on Northfield Road (Route 10) and the construction of a 4,500-square-foot office and retail dispensary.

Representatives from The Heirloom Collective convened at Town Hall on Tuesday to explain the plans and answer questions from Planning Board members and the 15 people in attendance. Project manager Richard Marcks and civil engineer David Frothingham, of the contracted firm Wilcox & Barton, talked about the design details while The Heirloom Collective CEO Jim Counihan, co-founder Tim Van Epps and Chief Operating Officer Marcus Stetson chimed in from time to time to answer specific questions about security and staffing.

Marcks and Frothingham explained the addition is expected to have a loading dock that can accommodate a 53-foot trailer, which is an 18-wheeler. The Heirloom Collective’s application makes reference to 200 employees, though all representatives said the number will not come close to that figure.

“It gives us some buffer,” Frothingham noted.

He also said the parking lot is depressed and there will be no storm run-off.

A drive-thru on the east side of the property — which is located in the Expedited Permitting District — would be for pre-paid orders only. It would operate like a fast-food restaurant, where customers order off a menu and pull around to pay and get their items.

The main concern conveyed by the public on Tuesday was traffic impact. Residents said they fear this development — more specifically, the traffic it generates — will make a busy stretch of road more hazardous.

“I have serious concerns about that entry onto Northfield Road from (Interstate) 91. I travel that road at least twice a day,” resident Mary McInerney said. “I have been clipped and almost clipped by trucks and cars coming off that highway. It’s a very dangerous place. This is just going to make that worse.”

McInerney also expressed worry about the backlog of vehicles at the drive-thru and the ability of minors to acquire marijuana, which is legal for people ages 21 and older. She mentioned there are two high schools in the immediate area and “students are very resourceful.”

Counihan explained every occupant of a vehicle must have their identification scanned by a $6,000 machine that detects fake IDs immediately.

Marcks said the dispensary will operate from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week. Work shifts will span from 6:45 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. and 1:45 to 10 p.m. Marcks and Frothingham explained vegetation is legally required to be limited so that there is no room for people to hide and so that security cameras have a clear line of view.

The Heirloom Collective began growing its first rounds of marijuana flower in December 2018. Counihan said the company’s first — and currently only — dispensary, at 457 Russell St. in Hadley, sees an average of 150 customers a day. It opened in May 2020.

Copies of The Heirloom Collective’s special permit and site plan review materials can be found at bit.ly/3hRUNJR.

The public hearing is scheduled to be continued on Aug. 24, at 6 p.m.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.




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