Pittsfield ZBA grants permit for third medical marijuana site


PITTSFIELD — A special permit was granted Wednesday by the Zoning Board of Appeals for a medical marijuana dispensary and cultivation facility on Dalton Avenue — the third such permit granted in Pittsfield, all of which are awaiting required sales licenses from the state.

The proposed facility, planned for an existing building at 501 Dalton Ave., is the second in that area undergoing the state licensing process. Another is proposed in a building at 531 Dalton Ave.

Both sites have received site plan and special permit approval at the city level but still lack a sales license from the state Department of Public Health.

A third facility is proposed for a building at 25 Downing Parkway.

Attorney Andrea Nuciforo, representing the applicant, Khem Organics Inc., emphasized that the state licensing process is a rigorous and lengthy one. "We are now about halfway through that process," he said.

City permitting boards have been approving site plans and special permits for eligible sites, but the approvals are contingent upon receipt of a state license. A fourth nonprofit group had previously obtained a special permit for the 531 Dalton Ave. site but was unable to advance in the state DPH's multi-stage licensing process.

Nuciforo and Brent White of White Engineering Inc., which prepared the site plan for Khem Organics, said the facility would use about 14,000 of 26,400 square feet of floor space in the building, with the other space reserved for existing business tenants.

They said the medical marijuana facility would be open approximately from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and up to 50 customers would be expected on an average day.

Customers also must be certified through the DPH, and use of the product is not allowed on the premises, Nuciforo said.

Devon Grierson, at attorney with Aaronson & Associates, representing the family that owns the adjacent Ken's Bowl, objected to the plan. He said the permit should be denied because there are many children visiting the bowling alley, including for special youth events.

However, Nuciforo said that, while state law and regulation authorizing medical marijuana sales establishes a 500-foot buffer zone between outlets and schools, playgrounds or day care centers, a business or other site, such as the bowling facility, would not meet that definition under the guidelines.

He said similar issues have arisen many times across the state, leading to that guideline determination.

City Planner C.J. Hoss concurred. He said the issue of what type of sites having activities involving children should be subject to a buffer zone restriction was specifically discussed when city officials passed an ordinance to regulate the siting of medical marijuana facilities.

Nuciforo and White did, however, agree to a request from Grierson and the Ken's Bowl owners that parking for the proposed dispensary be clearly marked and delineated from the adjacent parking for the bowling facility. The two sites are surrounded by paved parking areas facing Dalton Ave.

The Khem Organics plan was approved unanimously and earlier this week obtained site plan approval from the Community Development Board.

Contact Jim Therrien at 413-496-6247.


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