Greenjeans Farms presents preliminary plans for Whately marijuana grow facility

  • AP FILE PHOTO AP FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 7/22/2021 4:52:37 PM

WHATELY — Greenjeans Farms held a preliminary discussion at Wednesday’s Selectboard meeting to introduce a proposed marijuana cultivation facility at 149 Christian Lane, which is currently the location of Long Plain Farm.

The facility still has many hoops to jump through before it is approved, but Wednesday’s discussion served as an opportunity for residents to learn about the company’s plans.

Greenjeans Farms General Manager Julia Beauchemin said the company plans to have a family-managed “craft marijuana cooperative.”

“We started with the mission of giving Western Mass. farmers a chance to participate in the cannabis industry,” Beauchemin said. “We’d love to be able to submit our state application in September.”

Beauchemin said the farm’s current design “fits in with the agricultural character of Whately,” and limited construction of a new greenhouse and storage warehouse will be needed.

“We plan on utilizing existing greenhouses and it will all be sun-grown, with no artificial lighting,” Beauchemin said. “We’ll have a cedar fence to conceal the greenhouses to make sure it fits in with the character of the town. A chain-link fence is easier to climb and doesn’t look as good.”

For the facility to move forward, Greenjeans Farms must receive approval from the following entities: the state’s Cannabis Control Commission, a host community agreement from the Selectboard, a special permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals and site plan approval from the Planning Board.

A part of this approval process includes several opportunities for public comment. Selectboard Vice Chair Joyce Palmer-Fortune, who was running Wednesday’s meeting in the absence of Chair Jonathan Edwards, said these hearings will help the farm further devise its plans in the best interest of the neighborhood.

“It’s a chance to hear feedback from neighbors and abutters and what people in town think of it,” Palmer-Fortune said. “We’ll see you at a future Selectboard meeting as you get your community outreach going.”

In other business, the Selectboard discussed providing financial assistance to low-income residents as the town merges water districts.

Residents whose homes will be merged onto the existing water line will need to pay a $5,000 hookup fee.

Selectboard member Fred Baron said the town is in a great position to help those that need it because of federal emergency funding from the pandemic.

“It’s the perfect time. We have the COVID money and this program would fall into that category,” Baron said.

Water Commissioner John Lukin raised the concern that a program like this might lead to those who don’t live in the center of town asking where their financial assistance is.

“We are always willing to help people with the public system. It’s a great idea to help people,” Lukin said. “What if someone in the hills is drilling a well and says they can’t afford it?”

The discussion evolved into one about a water fund for all residents in town and the Selectboard agreed to ask Town Administrator Brian Domina to do some more research on establishing a fund for clean drinking water before any decisions were made.

The Selectboard also created an ad-hoc committee to decide on how to spend the town’s coronavirus impact fees and other revenue like marijuana excise taxes.

The seven-member committee will include a School Committee member, a Capital Improvement Committee member, two Finance Committee members, a Selectboard member, a Board of Health representative and a Water District member. Domina will help the committee in a non-voting role.

Baron said seven members is more than enough and that they will help guide the town’s decision-making.

“When these groups get too big they don’t accomplish anything,” Baron said. “They will be making recommendations to the Selectboard on how to handle new revenue streams to the town.”

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com or
413-930-4081.


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