Spectacle Pond in Sandisfield

Spectacle Pond in Otis State Forest in Sandisfield. After much debate and pushback from residents, a pot cultivation company that received a permit last month wants to move its greenhouse grow project to a new location in town.

SANDISFIELD — Nearly two months after the town granted Sama Productions LLC a permit for a marijuana growing and manufacturing operation near Town Hill and Abbey roads — over the fierce objection of neighbors — the company is seeking an alternate location in the town.

Sama filed a new special permit application on Tuesday to build its 22 greenhouses and manufacturing building on a 14.7-acre parcel on the eastern side of South Main Street (Route 8).

Sama Production LLC's new special permit application for a greenhouse cultivation facility in Sandisfield.

The scope of the project outlined in the new application is the same at the previous site; it wasn’t clear why the company is possibly choosing to switch locations. Sama principal John Heck could not be reached for comment.

The new site abuts property owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and is surrounded by “mature forest,” according to the application. The nearest other abutter is across the state highway, and the land has 1,200 feet of frontage that the company says it will screen with new trees.

A public hearing date has not yet been scheduled for the new application.

The decision comes just days after residents at the annual town meeting shot down any and all cannabis regulations, as well as a proposed ban on the industry. The regulations would have prohibited cannabis farms with over 20,000 square feet of canopy. Sama is proposing 100,000 square feet of canopy, which the state classifies as a Tier 11 facility — the largest state law allows.

“It’s really interesting that, had the bylaws passed, Sama wouldn’t have been able to even consider a new site in town for their Tier 11 project,” said Carl Nett, who has been a vocal supporter of having the industry in town.

Approval of Sama’s initial permit followed months of townwide debate over the issue. Residents and abutters pitched a battle over the business and its potential future impact on the bucolic landscape. Others welcomed the company, saying cannabis revenues might be the ticket out of a longstanding economic slump in this remote town. The company faced a similar fight in Great Barrington in 2019, and withdrew a permit there as a result.

Lev Natan, who owns land near Sama’s Town Hill Road location and plans to build a home there, said while this apparent change of address is good for him personally, he still has concerns about large facilities and pollution. Natan authored a change.org petition this month to protect Western Massachusetts from the industrial cannabis industry.

He was disheartened by the failed bylaw vote, and says he supports a “creative diverse economy” that includes cannabis on a smaller scale.

He said the approval of Sama’s permit last month shook him in a new way.

“I’ve never fought for my own land before,” he said. “I’ve never owned land, and I’m grateful that that’s something that’s in my life now.”

Heather Bellow can be reached at hbellow@berkshireeagle.com or 413-329-6871. On Twitter

@BE_hbellow.