Outreach meeting planned for proposed marijuana cultivation facility in Colrain

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Staff Writer
Published: 1/22/2021 3:18:44 PM

COLRAIN — Residents are invited to learn about New England Craft Cultivators LLC’s proposal to open a marijuana cultivation and marijuana product manufacturing facility on West Leyden Road during a virtual community outreach meeting on Tuesday.

The virtual meeting, set for 5 p.m., is an opportunity for members of the public to ask questions. Residents may also submit questions in advance by email to Matt Allen of New England Craft Cultivators at matt@necraftcultivators.com. All questions submitted ahead of time will be answered on Tuesday.

“This is our sole cultivation venture, at this moment at least,” Allen noted.

Allen, as well as New England Craft Cultivators co-founders and Co-CEOs Wes Ritchie and Ture Turnbull, said their company is committed to partnering exclusively with locally owned small cultivators, small manufacturers and micro-businesses to bring the highest quality craft cannabis products to the market. They said they were drawn to Colrain’s history as a family farming community as they sought a location to grow cannabis outdoors.

“We’re excited to partner with the property owner — they represent the exact kind of partner we’re looking for,” Allen noted.

The property, at 108 West Leyden Road, belongs to Colrain resident Dennis DePaolo, and is currently used to grow hemp. Allen said New England Craft Cultivators looks to partner with DePaolo for a Tier 11 outdoor marijuana cultivation facility which, in accordance with Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission guidelines, allows for up to 100,000 square feet of canopy.

Allen said he knew DePaolo before joining the New England Craft Cultivators team in December. He approached DePaolo about using his property because the farm exemplifies the small craft growers and businesses the company wants to work with.

Allen, Ritchie and Turnbull said they are looking forward to Tuesday’s meeting so they can introduce themselves to the Colrain community. The meeting will allow them to address technical questions that area neighbors may have regarding anything from security and traffic impacts, to the types of jobs that may become available at the site.

They also noted that outdoor cultivation is unique, as many companies in Massachusetts have opted to build indoor cultivation sites. Allen explained outdoor production is more sustainable and energy efficient, while indoor cultivation uses lots of electricity due to the use of grow lights to stimulate the flowering process. Typically, the trio explained, the natural change in daylight causes marijuana grown outdoors to flower once a year, in the fall.

The site would grow and harvest cannabis for distribution and sale at New England Craft Cultivators dispensaries and other retail locations. Currently, Ritchie said, they are focused on two retail locations that have been approved to operate in Dracut and Pepperell. Construction in Dracut started Jan. 14, he added.

Following preliminary discussions, New England Craft Cultivators will need to go before the Colrain Selectboard and enter into a host community agreement with the town. Then the company will continue to seek its required licensing through the Cannabis Control Commission.

According to Town Administrator Kevin Fox, Colrain already has three host community agreements with different marijuana companies, making this, potentially, the town’s fourth. The three agreements currently in place all call for the town to receive 3 percent of gross sales as the community impact fee. Fox also noted that two of these agreements are tied to the property at 108 West Leyden Road.

Tuesday’s community outreach meeting can be accessed by phone or online via video chat at bit.ly/3nztLX7. To join by phone, dial 1-321-209-6910 and enter Conference ID: 436 230 476#.

Zack DeLuca can be reached at zdeluca@recorder.com or 413-930-4579.



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