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After some debate about smell, North Adams Planning Board OKs outdoor cannabis grower on Ashland Street

537 Ashland Street in North Adams (copy)

The businesses located at 537 Ashland Street in North Adams, where a cannabis cultivation grower wants to open.

NORTH ADAMS — An outdoor cannabis grower is closer to starting its operations on Ashland Street.

The Planning Board approved its application for a special permit on Monday, on the condition that it submits a new parking plan that gets city approval. It's also contingent on approval the company is seeking from the city's Conservation Commission.

New England Alchemy LLC, owned by Rustin Kluge, submitted plans to the city's Planning Board to get a special permit to manufacture and grow cannabis at 537 Ashland St. By city ordinance, any licensed marijuana establishment needs a special permit. The company plans to grow the plant outdoors behind an 8-foot fence lined with lavender plants to minimize odor. Kluge has experience growing cannabis outdoors in Oregon, he told the board.

As proposed, the site would have eight parking spots, but at the height of the growing season, staffing may reach a dozen employees at at time, Kluge said Monday.

Some board members had concerns it was not enough parking and some worried the company had not gotten enough feedback from neighbors. But the company said it had a public outreach meeting already, though not many people attended.

There were also some questions and concerns about smell. City Councilor Wayne Wilkinson shared concerns when the meeting was opened to comments from the public. "I'm a plant person by nature, most of you know that. Lavender around the course of the area is stupid at best." He added, "You're gonna smell it and you can smell it downtown on a good day when the buds are ripe." The site is about a mile from downtown.

"It's impossible to say there will be no smell ever," Kluge told the board, adding that plants like lavender help and that the site is in an area zoned for industrial activity.

Others on the board, including Brian Miksic, also pointed out the zoning. "The whole reason that we have a zoning map is to be able to place the things that we want done in certain areas, Miksic, the board's chair, said. "And this is specifically zoned to be able to handle things like this ... "

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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