With Whately Planning Board approval of DMCTC, former Sugarloaf Shoppes to house two dispensaries

  • The site of the two planned marijuana dispensaries at the former Sugarloaf Shoppes in Whately. The red building will house ToroVerde, while the gray building will house Debilitating Medical Condition Treatment Centers (DMCTC). STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

Staff Writer
Published: 7/28/2021 3:17:17 PM

WHATELY — The site plan review for Debilitating Medical Condition Treatment Centers’ (DMCTC) retail marijuana facility at 424 State Road, Unit B was approved by the Planning Board Tuesday night on the condition the company works with the Police Department to facilitate directing traffic in and out of the parking lot.

DMCTC will join ToroVerde, which is approved for Unit A, as the second dispensary at the former Sugarloaf Shoppes. Both retailers are also planning to lease out additional office or retail space, which raised concerns about the number of parking spaces.

Chris Chamberland, a Berkshire Design engineer assigned to the project, said there are 87 parking spots, but a traffic analysis estimated 72 spots will be needed at peak times. He added this analysis covered the entire site, despite DMCTC only applying for half of it.

“We’re aware this site is a busy area,” Chamberland said. “That 72 is meant to represent my estimate of a sort of worst-case occupancy of the marijuana retailers and the office space.”

ToroVerde President William Beetz said he was concerned because his plans to lease, which could include a restaurant, could be affected the addition of another marijuana retail facility.

“We weren’t anticipating another dispensary next door,” Beetz said. “We knew we were going to have other neighbors. We didn’t know it was going to limit who we could have as our tenant.”

Planning Board Chair Donald Sluter — who could not vote on the application because he missed half of the hearing due to internet issues — said any parking issues would not be apparent until both facilities were open, and any further retail or restaurant leases would require another special permit.

“We don’t have any real information on parking until both places have been open until a couple of weeks at least,” Sluter said. “If they try to put in a retail establishment, they will need a special permit.”

Planning Board member Judy Markland said concerns about parking because of future leases could not influence Tuesday’s decision. Fellow member Sara Cooper agreed and said the board needs to consider permits on a “case-by-case” basis.

“Effectively we would be denying this application based on a hypothetical application,” Markland said. “We have to look at each one as they come.”

Sluter added most marijuana facilities rarely reach capacity.

“Doing a casual, visual drive-by of other marijuana establishments, it’s a real anomaly (to see full parking lots),” Sluter said. “Nobody else has 10 percent of what’s going on in Northampton. … They just don’t have the numbers.”

Chamberland said Unit B is 8,000 square feet, of which 3,100 square feet will be converted into the dispensary while the remaining 4,900 will be leased. Jared Glanz-Berger of DMCTC said he is unsure who he will lease the space to, but he is planning on it becoming office space.

“We would be looking out to see who would make a complementary tenant with us in the building,” Glanz-Berger said. “Soon after we take ownership, we’ll put feelers out.”

Ultimately, the Planning Board, with Sluter abstaining, voted three to one to approve DMCTC’s site plan review on two conditions. First, the company must receive letters of approval of the site’s safety from town officials. Second, the company must make “every effort” to facilitate traffic flow in and out with detail police officers assigned to the site by the Whately Police Department.

Chamberland said DMCTC is another chance for Whately to stimulate its economy.

“The town of Whately has put in a grant application seeking economic development … seeking to drive more businesses,” Chamberland said. “DMCTC is hoping to be a part of that.”

The Planning Board also approved a second site plan application for DMCTC at 3 River Road for a marijuana processing facility based on three conditions: the plan must receive approvals from all appropriate boards and committees; zoning approval must be received from the Hatfield Planning Board; and in the event of excessive odor, the Planning Board will have the ability to require additional mitigating conditions.

This processing facility would neighbor DMCTC’s outdoor cultivation facility at 7 River Road.

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


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