Whately OKs outreach meeting for proposed cultivation site

Staff Writer
Published: 11/22/2020 3:03:47 PM

WHATELY — The Selectboard has approved a remote community outreach meeting for a group proposing an indoor marijuana cultivation site on Lasalle Drive.

The remote meeting was approved Wednesday on the condition that abutters are notified that they have the option to attend in-person or make other arrangements to participate if they can’t, or are not comfortable, participating via Zoom.

Whately RE Holdings LLC is proposing an indoor cultivator site at 23A LaSalle Drive, on the property owned by John Lasalle of Lasalle Florists. The property is currently under contract for purchase, according to Chris Cimini, a member of the LLC.

The LLC is a newly formed entity, Cimini said, and the site in Whately would be its first project.

As proposed Whately RE Holdings, minor improvements would be made for security and lighting purposes, including a proposed perimeter fence.

The operation would begin as a Tier 1 5,000-square-foot grow that will be “progressively scaled up as needed,” according to Cimini.

“All of the greenhouses that are proposed … are already in existence through the floral shop,” said Sofia Bitzas, an attorney speaking on behalf of the LLC. “Everything else pretty much is going to remain the same, as far as the site goes.”

Bitzas said the group has initiated the permitting process with the Planning Board and the Zoning Board of Appeals.

John Lasalle said the front field on the corner of Claverack Road would still be growing space for either flowers or vegetables. The house on the property, where he currently resides, will be sold with the property and remain as a residence.

“The main thing I like about this project is that the greenhouses will remain as greenhouses and will be refurbished and kept up, as now they’re in need of maintenance, which I can’t afford to do,” he said. “With these people purchasing the property, it will enhance the greenhouses and put them in their proper use.”

Neal Dach, another member of the group, said the project won’t involve any runoff.

“We’re going to use a 100-percent closed system where the wastewater is completely filtered and then reused,” he said. “… The other important thing is there won’t be any smell detectable from outside of the farm.”

After Selectboard members asked questions of the applicant, the board opened it up to public comment.

The son of the current owners of 13 Lasalle Drive expressed several concerns with the proposed project, namely the experience of the individuals involved in the project, the aesthetics of the proposed fence on the property, and the potential odor.

Dach said the group could use odor detectors to quantify the amount of smell — he also noted that the greenhouses will be sealed.

“There won’t be any smell getting out of those houses,” he said.

As for issues of lighting, he said an opaque layer would be put up after sunset so that the lights of the greenhouses won’t be visible during the night, either.

“We want to take every measure to make sure that these very legitimate concerns, that we do everything possible to address those concerns,” Dach said.

A public notice will be posted in local newspapers when a date for the meeting is scheduled.

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




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