ADAMS – A proposal for a cannabis business would be a “good shot in the arm” for the Spring Street area.
That was City Manager Jay Green’s assessment Wednesday after presenting the proposal to the Select Board.
Eric Cromwell of Longmeadow and Sacha Wing of Wilbraham presented their plans to establish a retail, cultivation and manufacturing facility at 44 Spring St. The store, to be called Berk’s Greens, would include a “sun-assisted indoor grow” operation with about 40,000 square feet of canopy, they said.
Noting that the city is frequently briefed on the establishment of cannabis businesses, Green said he was encouraged that Cromwell and Wing hail from nearby Pioneer Valley and have already gone through the state licensing process to establish a cultivation and manufacturing business in Palmer .
“We had a great meeting with them,” Green said. “They’re working with a local contractor, a local property owner, so the future is bright.”
Under Adam’s Host Community Agreement, cannabis businesses would pay a 3 percent excise tax and a 3 percent community impact fee in addition to commercial property taxes, although several companies have questioned the legality of community impact fees.
Wing Well LLC, which Cromwell and Wing jointly own, is rehabilitating a vacant former Thorndike Mills estate in Palmer and hopes to start operations there by the end of the year, they said.
Cromwell said his family background was running KFC and Burger King restaurants, and Wing spent 18 years in building design and construction.
They said the landlord at 44 Spring St. is open to development and they want to make sure existing businesses aren’t crowded out, Cromwell said.
The indoor grow space would be blocked off by tall vertical walls so it wouldn’t be visible from the street, and police will have 24-hour access to cameras for security, Cromwell said. A domed glass ceiling would let in light for the plants, and the couple plans to explore ways to use solar panels as well.
Cromwell noted that odor is a common problem with cannabis companies, although he said they have no plans to open the facility to the outside air. If need be, he expects an “ambient air ozone generator” to be able to take care of odors.
“We’re very confident that we can handle this odor problem for the city because, again, we’re neighbors,” he said. “We have no interest in disrupting people’s lives for profit – that’s not our agenda.”
Wing estimated that Berk’s Greens would employ about 40 people, although many retail employees would be part-time. As the cannabis market gets busier, Cromwell said he wants the store to be “a bit of a destination” and not just another store.
The couple said they hope to be up and running within 12 to 14 months. The Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission requires them to attend a community outreach meeting and apply for retail, cultivation, and manufacturing licenses. On the city side, they have to go before the planning committee to get approval.
“The next step for them is really to decide when they’re ready to do their outreach and any requests that are being driven by CCC,” Green said. “As we’ve said many times, with the proposed operators coming into town, it really isn’t the Adams regulations that are onerous; It’s CCC.”
There are no cannabis retailers in Adams, but several stores have opened in other Berkshire County communities. While these companies have generated millions of dollars in tax revenue for local governments, some residents of these communities have voted against and voted to ban new cannabis companies.
A proposed cultivation facility at 173 Howland Ave. in Adams is progressing, as is a retail store at 127 Columbia St. that was formerly the Woodstock South store.
Applicants withdrew from a proposal to open a retail and cultivation facility at 6 Renfrew St. after a neighbor objected.
Danny Jin, a Report for America Corps member, is a news reporter for The Eagle’s Statehouse. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, @djinreports on Twitter and 413-496-6221.