Letter: Crane singled out unfairly (copy)

Temescal Wellness of Massachusetts hopes to open a marijuana-cultivation facility in the former Crane Stationery site in North Adams. The Planning Board gave its approval Monday.

NORTH ADAMS — The Planning Board this week approved an independent bookstore, a variety store, a new cell site, a dog care facility — and an adult-use marijuana cultivation facility that would open in the former Crane Stationery building.

The permit request for an indoor marijuana-cultivation facility came from Temescal Wellness of Massachusetts, which operates recreational and medical cannabis dispensaries in Pittsfield, Hudson and Framingham.

The board's approval on Monday marked one step in a process for the company, which also got the OK on Tuesday from the North Adams City Council.

According to a 1980 declaration, the city has the right to refuse the property's sale. Temescal asked the city, through the council, to waive that right and clear the way for the sale.

The waiver, which the council agreed to unanimously, leaves the city's first right of refusal intact for future sales of the property, according to Josh Lee Smith, a lawyer for Temescal.

The company also will require state licensure to open the facility.

Smith stressed that an adult-use marijuana-cultivation facility in North Adams would benefit the community and would require only minimal changes to the building’s exterior.

"This is something that I think is an opportunity for both sides, really," he told the board. "We think this is a gem of a property. We've been searching for a property for a long time, and we believe this is it. At the same time, I think this is a great opportunity for the city."

Smith said that the company had been welcomed "with open arms" from city officials, including Mayor Tom Bernard.

According to estimates from the company, Temescal would employ 75 to 80 people in its first stage and increase that number as it expanded cultivation.

The facility would pay a community impact fee, intended to account for municipal expenses on roads, infrastructure, police, fire, inspections, permitting and "unforeseen impacts." The fees would rise each year, starting at $60,000 for the first year in operation and rising to $200,000 in the fourth and fifth years, though capped at 3 percent of gross sales, according to the company's application.

"I do know there was a tax-incentive deal between Crane and the city," Smith said. "This is really the opposite. We're creating jobs and we're providing additional impact fees as part of us being in operation here."

The company also woulduse its "best efforts" to hire vendors, contractors and employees from North Adams, according to its filing, and work with the city on drug abuse prevention.

Tom Haffly, Temescal's director of production, assured the board that the facility would have strict security, such as 24/7 video recordings inside and outside, as well as little odor impact, with four layers of protection, including carbon filtration.

"With treatment, you can get pretty close, into the building almost, before you experience any kind of odor," he said.

Other board action

The Bear & Bee Bookshop bookstore is planned for 28 Holden St. and primarily will feature used books, as well as a selection of gifts and a bike rack outside, said applicant Jennifer Stevens.

The board also OK’d a permit at 96 Union St. for Northern Berkshire K9, a dog day care, training and grooming facility that has been operating for two years in Williamstown.

"Unfortunately, it's not adequate for our business any longer," said owner Heather Jones. "So, we'd like to bring it to your city and really focus on Mass MoCA. We service a lot of people coming in and out of town for that."

Permits also were granted for a convenience store, Pops Variety, at 20 Marshall St., the site of the former Man's World Styling Salon, and a Verizon Wireless cell site that would increase coverage along Route 7.

Francesca Paris can be reached at fparis@berkshireeagle.com and 510-207-2535.