Will developer grow pot at Greylock Mill? Lee officials reviewing plans

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LEE — Town officials are on the clock as they have until early May to decide if a California firm can grow marijuana in a vacant paper mill.

The Select Board on Tuesday night agreed to review plans from Zipbox Corp. to operate a cannabis cultivation and manufacturing facility in the 159,000-square-foot Greylock Mill between Greylock and Columbia streets.

The board also approved the host community agreement with Zipbox, the first of several steps in the local and state approval process before the state can consider issuing a license to the developer.

The Lee Planning Board, Conservation Commission and municipal public safety officials will review and give recommendations regarding the project to the three selectman prior to their special permit hearing for the project. The hearing is tentatively scheduled for May 7.

Franz Chan, founder and CEO of Zipbox, and his development team initially presented their proposal to the Select Board earlier this month. He expects to hold a required community outreach meeting, possibly the day before the hearing, according to the company's on-site manager, Roger Scheurer.

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Chan also is CEO and founder of Golden Tree & Co. Technology Corp., which operates a 50,000-square-foot pot growing facility in Adelanto, Calif.

A realty holding company, Lee Town Development, bought the mill on behalf of Zipbox on March 15 from Lenox Development LLC for $3.8 million. Lenox Development is a subsidiary of Niagara Worldwide, which purchased the mill property and two others in Lee and Lenox Dale five years ago.

The company would hire about 50 to 60 employees over two to three years, not counting administrative and office workers, at an entry-level annual salary of $60,000, according to the proposal. It would aim to hire half the workforce from the Lee area.

The town likely can expect increased property tax revenue from an active Greylock Mill. The land and building are assessed at $1.7 million for tax purposes, compared with $5 million in 2008, the year the mill shut down.

Dick Lindsay can be reached at rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com and 413-496-6233.


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