Our Opinion: Unlikely but promising tenant for business park

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Three years ago, it couldn't have been imagined that a cannabis cultivation facility could part of the solution to the knotty problem of filling the William Stanley Business Park. However, things are happening fast on the marijuana front in Massachusetts.

On Tuesday, the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority voted unanimously to advance an option agreement with Jeremy and Phil Silverman, the owners of the cannabis company Berkshire Kind, to purchase a 1.5-acre parcel near by corner of Woodlawn Avenue and East Street for an undisclosed price ("Pittsfield plot greenlighted for pot site," Eagle, Oct. 9). The project is subject to both state and local permitting.

The brothers plan to build a 20,000-square-foot building to grow their cannabis, which should negate any PCB concerns because the facility would be built on the former General Electric property. The facility will not be in a residential area, so the concerns about odors that have plagued plans for similar operations in Great Barrington and Cheshire should not be a factor. Nonetheless, the Silvermans said they will install odor mitigation technology.

According to the Cannifornian, which covers the burgeoning cannabis industry in California, carbon filters or "scrubbers" can be attached to a marijuana facility's ventilation system to destroy odors. A newer system uses nozzles to shoot water mixed with an odor-neutralizing substance at spots where air is emitted from the growing facility. The water evaporates, leaving the chemicals to neutralize the smells.

In Great Barrington, Fulcrum Enterprises would use a mist composed of oils and emulsifiers and propelled by fans to negate odors from its greenhouses ("Great Barrington residents air pot farm concerns at hearing, Eagle, Sept. 11). While neighbors have expressed objections, the parcel on Van Deusenville Road is zoned industrial and the cultivation facility would be located in the vicinity of an auto parts salvage yard, solar farms, a train-disassembling yard and a propane company.

In Cheshire, an outdoor marijuana-cultivation farm proposed for a parcel between Stafford Hill and Sand roads has also raised residents' concerns about cannabis odors ("For some in Cheshire, odor tops list of worries for pot farm plan, Eagle, Aug. 29). The nozzle system noted above has been used for outdoor facilities, and while the developers say the parcel is so isolated that odor will not be an issue they may need to employ odor-control technology to appease residents and town officials.

The legalization of recreational marijuana in Massachusetts has opened a variety of economic opportunities for Berkshire County which should be exploited as long as they are properly regulated and the concerns of neighbors addressed to whatever extent possible. In the case of the Pittsfield proposal, the initiative by Berkshire Kind is a vote of confidence in the Stanley Business Park, as the Silvermans said that the parcel's shovel-ready status, parking and utilities made it appealing. The brothers also praised Michael Coakley, hired by Mayor Linda Tyer to be the city's business development manager, for helping the deal with PEDA reach fruition. It promises to help make the business park pay dividends for Pittsfield residents.

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