PITTSFIELD -- A proposed medical marijuana facility on Dalton Avenue easily cleared its first local permitting hurdle after a quick review by the city's Community Development Board.
A site plan from Total Health and Wellness Inc., one of two nonprofit groups seeking a special permit for a facility in Pittsfield, was approved Tuesday after only a few comments from board members.
"It's a great spot for it, away from schools," said board member Louis Costi. "I see no problems with it."
The permit request under the city's newly adopted zoning amendment regulating medical marijuana sites also will require review by the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Conservation Commission, as well the City Council.
Attorney F. Sydney Smithers, of Cain Hibbard & Myers of Pittsfield, representing Total Health and Wellness, said the marijuana cultivation and dispensary facility is planned for a building at 531 Dalton Ave.
The building, owned by Paul Lester, according to the permit application, now houses an equipment rental business, County-Wide Rental. About 4,800 square feet of space would be allotted for cultivation, Smithers said, and 1,500 square feet for the dispensary.
Security measures would include having a closed sally port area, where medical marijuana patients with a state registration card could enter and fill prescriptions through a dispensing machine, he said.
Transactions and handling by employees and patients would be videotaped, and there would be security cameras, including infrared equipment and an alarm system.
"Security would probably exceed what you would find at a pharmacy dispensing OxyContin," Smithers said.
The nonprofit expects to work with Medbox Inc. in creating a state-of-the-art electronic dispensing machine.
Matthew Puntin of SK Design Group said the facility would have minimal impacts on city water and sewer systems and on traffic along Dalton Avenue.
He said the plan calls for 14 parking spaces, which is higher than the estimated need for about eight patients and the small staff.
The proposal estimates 30 to 50 patients visiting daily and 60 to 120 required vehicle trips.
Added areas of lawn, trees and shrubbery should reduce any existing stormwater runoff from the parcel, Puntin said.
According to the submitted plan, the entire site encompasses 20,000 square feet of space and 9,255 square feet would be for parking. The building totals 6,300 square feet.
Total Health and Wellness is simultaneously proposing a medical marijuana facility in an existing building at 26 Roberts Drive in North Adams, between Route 2 and Massachusetts Avenue.
However, the city's Planning Board and Mayor Richard J. Alcombright have asked the City Council to consider a moratorium on the facilities to allow time to look into possible zoning or permitting regulation changes.
The council's Community Development Committee is expected to consider that request at 5:30 p.m. Thursday in City Hall, and the full council could act on a moratorium at its Dec. 23 meeting.
In Pittsfield, Manna Wellness Inc. also proposes a medical marijuana facility -- on Callahan Drive off West Housatonic Street.
While local permits can be sought now, none of the 100 nonprofits seeking a required state license for a facility will know whether they have been selected until late January. The state Department of Public Health is expected to choose not more than 35 statewide to operate Massachusetts' first facilities.
Medical marijuana was approved in a statewide referendum in November 2012, and the DPH has been developing regulations and procedures for issuing licenses.
The DPH website also lists two other nonprofits considering Berkshire locations: Green house Dispensary Inc. is considering one in Lee and Prospect Lake Inc. seeks one in Great Barrington.
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