2nd developer has designs for pot-growing site in Lanesborough

In a presentation to the Select Board on Monday, the founders of Chilly Farms said they've scouted a few properties in Lanesborough, including the Berkshire Mall, for a marijuana-cultivation facility.

LANESBOROUGH — A second developer is eyeing the town to grow marijuana, possibly by the end of 2019.

Chilly Farms, based in Westborough, is hoping to build or retrofit a building in which to create a 10,000- to 20,000-square-foot cultivation facility that could generate $28 million in taxable revenue during the first five years of operation, according to company projections.

In a presentation to the Select Board on Monday night, company founders Benjamin England and Barry Coleman said they've scouted a few properties in Lanesborough, including the Berkshire Mall, the town's single-largest commercial building.

Vast swaths of open space are available in the mall, which has lost several large anchor stores in recent years.

Chilly Farms' proposal comes nearly three weeks after New England Agriculture Technologies proposed building up to 18 greenhouses on 7 acres it would buy from Gray Raven Farm off Route 7 in Lanesborough's north end. In addition, the company would surround the recreational marijuana-growing complex with an electricity-producing solar array that would produce power for the project. Depending on the size of the facility, it could generate more than $100,000 in annual tax revenue for the town, according to the company's proposal.

Chilly Farms made no such revenue projection based on a 3 percent local sales tax rate — the highest allowed under the state's cannabis regulations.

Initially, it would have six to eight employees, with an anticipated $280,000 in gross sales from the first harvest. As the company expands its production, by year five, projections are nearly $3.4 million in gross sales, according to the company's business plan.

The developers said they also have had conversations with municipal officials in Clarksburg, Williamstown and North Adams.

"It's all about fact-finding right now," Coleman said. "My feeling is, this has to be a marriage; we want to make sure you want us here."

Select Board Chairman John Goerlach said that, besides the mall, Lanesborough has limited space for a facility of that size.

"There are some properties out the outskirts, but you would have to build a building," Goerlach told the developers.

Chilly Farms' long-range plans include a retail store, either in the cultivation community they choose or another Berkshire municipality, according to the developers. Lanesborough would allow, at most, two marijuana shops in designated business zones along Main Street and Route 8.

After the Select Board meeting, Coleman told The Eagle his company probably will decide in a month's time which Berkshire community suits it best.

The developers note that they would then seek seek a host-town agreement and hold a public outreach meeting with the community. Once the welcome mat is out, the startup company would seek the necessary state and local permits, renovate an existing building or construct a new building on several acres and possibly begin operations — all within 18 months.

Planning Board Chairman Jamie Szczepaniak said he is worried that multiple marijuana farming operations would saturate the local market. Since Massachusetts borders New York and several other New England states, none of which have legalized marijuana sales, England expects the commonwealth to have a corner on the pot market.

"There will be unlimited demand in the first five years," he said.

Selectman Henry "Hank" Sayers welcomed the marijuana industry's interest in Lanesborough.

"It's coming to us, so we might as well get the tax benefit," he said.

Dick Lindsay can be reached at rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com and 413-496-6233.