Pot grow facility, retail shop at old Bendix site receive green light from Greenfield ZBA

  • With its special permit secured, Greenerside Holdings LLC can move forward with building an indoor marijuana cultivation facility with an accessory retail shop at the former Bendix property at 180 Laurel St. in Greenfield, pictured. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 9/18/2023 3:52:01 PM

GREENFIELD — With its special permit secured, Greenerside Holdings LLC can move forward with building an indoor marijuana cultivation facility with an accessory retail shop at the former Bendix property on Laurel Street.

Anthony Wonseski, senior engineer at SVE Associates, presented the plans to the Zoning Board of Appeals last week, which includes new construction and repaving the existing parking area. There will be 107 parking spaces, five of which will be reserved for accessible parking.

Wonseski said that, based on traffic projections that were calculated when Massachusetts first legalized recreational marijuana in 2016, there would be 253 total customer trips daily, plus employee traffic — though he suspects actual traffic numbers won’t be that high. The business expects to employ about 20 people between both the retail and cultivation facilities, with a focus on hiring Greenfield residents.

“We’re not seeing the anticipated traffic … when [retail shops] first opened in Massachusetts,” Wonseski explained. “I’m not seeing it in Greenfield, in Turners, and definitely not Amherst when they first opened.”

Co-owner Richard Ferrara addressed questions about odor control and delivery trucks.

“Every single room will have full carbon filtration and we’ll make sure no odor leaves that area,” he said. “The state has regulations on it and we would follow everything on it to the letter of the law.”

Resident Ron Weeks, who lives on Wisdom Way, said his main concern is the sudden increase in traffic to that area for the first time in 30 years. He advocated for the addition of lights in the neighborhood, given that at least one has been removed.

“I’m right next to this piece of property,” said Weeks. “I’ve had interactions with the property owners and they’ve been nothing but good interactions. They’re very willing to work with the residents there.”

Though the ZBA could not make the addition of street lights a condition to the special permit approval, Ferrara said he is willing to explore putting lights in if it is “financially feasible.”

Also speaking during public comment, Arthur “Terry” Ruggles, a board member with the Greenfield Public Library Foundation, said the property owners have already demonstrated “an interest in supporting the community.” Specifically, he shared that the group had committed “six figures” to the new library.

Ruggles’ comment was met with concern from Al Norman, who feared it was meant to influence the ZBA’s decision. Board members addressed the comment later in the evening, prior to deliberation, emphasizing it would not be a factor in their decision.

“I don’t think I needed to chill him from saying what he said, but whether they gave a dollar or $100,000 has nothing to do with our decision,” said ZBA Chair David Singer. “It had an appearance that probably wasn’t the intended appearance.”

The board voted unanimously to approve the permit, provided certain conditions were met, including meeting with Police Chief Robert Haigh Jr. to review security measures, revising the operation hours and limiting delivery vehicles to box trucks.

Greenerside Holdings agreed to the terms of purchasing the former Bendix property from the city in 2019 for $365,000. The company was the lone bidder during the city’s request-for-proposals period, according to city officials at the time.

Ferrara said he and colleagues had hoped to be further along in the process by now, but the COVID-19 pandemic delayed their progress. With the company’s special permit approved, he said he hopes for construction to start as soon as November.

The former industrial site that was primarily used for metalworking has been riddled with hazards for years. Both the state and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have deemed the area with asbestos and other harmful chemicals in need of high levels of remediation.

In April 2019, the site was moving toward compliance, according to Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection records.

Reporter Mary Byrne can be reached at mbyrne@recorder.com or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne.


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