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New England Alchemy

After Mayor Jennifer Macksey files a lawsuit, New England Alchemy says it won't open a cannabis business in North Adams

537 Ashland Street in North Adams (copy)

The businesses located at 537 Ashland St. in North Adams, where New England Alchemy proposed opening a cannabis manufacturing and cultivation site. Though it secured a special permit, the company says it will now look elsewhere, after the city's mayor filed an appeal of that permit. 

NORTH ADAMS — New England Alchemy has dropped plans for an outdoor cannabis growing facility in North Adams, days after the city’s mayor filed a lawsuit opposing the special permit it won.

“We’re just choosing another municipality that we feel is a better fit,” Rustin Kluge, the company’s owner, said Friday. “So we thank the city of North Adams, we thank the Planning [Board] but we are choosing a better fit for our company.” The alternative location for the manufacturing and cultivation facility — and whether or not it will be in the Berkshires — has yet to be determined, he said.

New England Alchemy proposed opening an outdoor cannabis cultivation and manufacturing site on Ashland Street and got a special permit, with some conditions, from the Planning Board.

However, after neighbors complained about the proposal and the smells they believed a cannabis farm could bring to the area, Mayor Jennifer Macksey filed a lawsuit against the company and the city’s Planning Board, appealing the special permit.

The city’s ordinances allow for outdoor cannabis cultivation. It was the city’s rules that drew Kluge here in the first place. He said he choose North Adams because it appeared to welcome his kind of business.

“We sat down with the previous administration, Mayor (Tom) Bernard, and he was excited about us coming and gave us a town host agreement. The new administration came in and that’s all I have to say on that matter,” Kluge said.

Macksey said if the company tells her in writing about its change of plans, she will withdraw the appeal. Though she said she had not been notified directly by the company, she was not surprised to hear that they now plan to go elsewhere. “We suspected that was going to occur,” she said.

Brian Miksic, chair of the Planning Board, said he was disappointed the company will not open its facility. “I think this community desperately needs the tax revenue and desperately needs the jobs,” he said Friday. “And this applicant did everything they were supposed to do and they followed all the rules set forth by our ordinances.”

Diane Parsons, who lives a few blocks from the site and presented a petition from neighbors at a City Council meeting, said she was concerned about losing tax money, but said this of the Ashland Street location: “It’s the absolute wrong place for it.”

Parsons was concerned about the possible odors from the business and was happy to hear the company changed its plans. “I don’t want my property value to decrease,” she said.

Greta Jochem can be reached at gjochem@berkshireeagle.com or 413-496-6272.

Reporter

Greta Jochem, a Report for America Corps member, joined the Eagle in 2021. Previously, she was a reporter at the Daily Hampshire Gazette. She is also a member of the investigations team.

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