Former Southworth paper mill in Turners Falls could see new life with marijuana company

By MAX MARCUS

Staff Writer

Published: 01-26-2021 6:12 PM

TURNERS FALLS — A marijuana grower is aiming to move into the former Southworth building, bringing new business to the location for the first time since the paper company abruptly closed in August 2017.

The grower, a new company called Hydroflower, could be the third marijuana grower in Montague, after 253 Farmacy, a retailer that also has on-site growing facilities, and Flower Power, a new company that hopes to begin construction of its growing facility this summer. A company called Greenhouse Cannabis Group, which provides software for coordinating marijuana delivery, is also set to open its office in Millers Falls this spring.

The former Southworth building was bought by developer Tom Cusano in December 2019. Cusano said he chose Hydroflower from several candidates because its business plan was the most viable.

Hydroflower CEO Ryan Ward also runs a grow facility in Maine, and has previously been involved in marijuana-related businesses in Pennsylvania.

Montague Town Administrator Steve Ellis said that he talked to the town manager of Eliot, Maine, where Ward’s other facility is, and was pleased with what he learned.

“Insofar as references go, from a peer in their town hall, it was a terrific conversation,” Ellis said.

Hydroflower’s plan for the Southworth building is to begin by using only 40,000 square feet of the building’s full 150,000 square feet of floor space, Ward said. The company may expand into more of the building, depending on its needs, he said.

Ward noted that the town’s zoning of the Southworth building, which is in the industrial Canal District near downtown Turners Falls, allows for marijuana cultivation and manufacturing without a special permit.

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Odor control has not been an issue with Ward’s other marijuana businesses, he said, and the facility in the Southworth building would use the same odor control equipment as in the other facilities.

“That’s always going to be a focus — to make sure that the business is not disruptive in any shape or form,” Ward said.

The Selectboard voted on Monday to open negotiations for a host community agreement between Hydroflower and the town. Selectboard Chair Rich Kuklewicz will be in the negotiations with Ellis and Town Planner Walter Ramsey, as has been done with the other marijuana companies in Montague.

Ramsey said a community outreach meeting will be held at some point in the future.

Reach Max Marcus at mmarcus@recorder.com or 413-930-4231.

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