LENOX — Residents of the tight-knit Lenox Dale neighborhood concerned about a proposed medical marijuana facility in their village can pose their questions to officials of Crane Healthcare at an informational forum on Tuesday evening.
The discussion at a special Select Board meeting will be at 7 p.m. at the Lenox Dale Fire House.
The meeting, open to all town residents and other interested members of the public, was organized following a preliminary presentation to the Select Board on May 17 by the co-founders of Boston-based Crane Healthcare, Satu S. Parikh and Michael Sung, with their attorney and compliance officer, Valerio Romano.
Crane is targeting the long-vacant Niagara Mill as a potential site for a medical marijuana growing and processing operation, as well as a dispensary. However, Parikh and Sung also have explored possible locations on the Route 7 & 20 (Pittsfield Road) commercial zones north of Lenox, which could serve as a growing and distribution facility, or just a dispensary.
On May 4, annual town meeting voters adopted a Planning Board recommendation limiting medical marijuana locations to the Lenox Dale industrial zone or the state highway commercial zones. Sites in the downtown Lenox and Lenox Dale business districts are off-limits as a result of the vote.
The Niagara Mill, vacant for the past 11 years, is in the small Lenox Dale industrial zone just across the Housatonic River from the village's residential zone and business district.
The three Crane Healthcare officials attended the May 17 Select Board meeting to advocate for a letter of support, or of non-opposition, from Town Hall, a state Department of Health requirement for a preliminary application to go forward.
Parikh and Sung filed the preliminary document with the state on March 29, certifying that they have the required financial resources above $500,000 to operate a medical marijuana facility.
If the company wins the Select Board's support for a supportive letter from Town Manager Christopher Ketchen, it would be the first of many hoops to be jumped through before the state DPH would grant a final application to manufacture and distribute marijuana to patients certified by the state to receive it for treatment of medical conditions.
There are about 600 Berkshire County patients eligible, according to Crane Healthcare officials. The nearest facility currently is in Northampton, but applicants are on deck to open marijuana plant cultivation sites and dispensaries in Pittsfield and Great Barrington.
The Niagara Mill has environmental issues to be resolved, but Sung, the company's chief financial officer, has cited its potential and has stated that "with proper coordination and support, we could give it a go and see if we can actually deploy a facility here for growing, cultivation and also a dispensary."
He said Crane has "site control" of the Niagara Mill, but Parikh, Crane's CEO, would not confirm reports that a purchase-and-sale option has been taken out on the property now owned by a Wisconsin-based developer, Niagara Worldwide.
Parikh did tell the Select Board that about 25 jobs would be created in Lenox Dale if the facility wins town and site approval.
State Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, D-Lenox, told The Eagle recently that use of the mill would be an economic development boost for Lenox Dale.
The Select Board is expected to hold its regularly scheduled meeting at Town Hall on Wednesday, the night after the informational forum in Lenox Dale, and it may continue the discussion of the medical marijuana issue with a possible vote.
Reach correspondent Clarence Fanto at firstname.lastname@example.org or 413-637-2551.