Pot Company Pitches Ashby Retail, Grow Operations
ASHBY -- The business looking to bring two recreational marijuana establishments to Fitchburg State Road held a community outreach meeting Wednesday night to share its plans with residents.
United Cultivation LLC wants to open a retail shop at 804 Fitchburg State Road and an indoor cultivation facility less than half a mile away at 601-603 Fitchburg State Road that could be 100,000 square feet in size.
“We want to be a good corporate citizen,” said Mike Spengler, a manager for the business. “We plan to execute our vision with a laser focus.”
About 20 residents attended the meeting that was held at the library. They asked a variety of questions including how the plants would be grown and educating youth about the impacts of marijuana.
Some who live near the proposed shop and cultivation site asked what kind of effect they would have on their property values and traffic in the area.
With the opening of retail shops in Northampton and Leicester, United Cultivation is aware of concerns about congestion and police details needed to direct a high volume of customers from around the state, he said.
“We’re really looking to make it a low-impact facility,” Spengler said.
For security, the sites would have lighting, alarms and video surveillance systems. Identification would be required to verify that people admitted into the shop are at least 21 years old. Employees would have background and criminal checks, he said.
An attendee asked whether United Cultivation anticipates people from New Hampshire coming to buy.
The age restriction controls who can can enter and purchase at the shop, Spengler said, but he noted that it’s illegal to transport marijuana over state lines.
United Cultivation estimates that it can generate $886,000 a year for Ashby through product sales, wholesale sales of marijuana flower to other shops in the state, a 3 percent local tax, and property taxes. Over five years, the shop and grow facility could bring in $4.43 million, according to the company.
The town could also benefit from the jobs created by the two establishments and the support United Cultivation wants to give to local youth groups.
Steve Phaneuf, who runs a stone veneer business in town, has rights to the property where the cultivation facility and store are proposed.
“I didn’t expect this zoning to be adopted, but when the opportunity came, I wanted to pursue this business venture,” he said.
The outreach meeting is the first step to opening up a recreational marijuana business per state regulations.
United Cultivation plans to approach the Board of Selectmen to draft a community host agreement, which establishes conditions the business would need to meet to operate retail and cultivation establishments in town. That document would include how the business would manage traffic and ensure security at the two sites.
Once a community host agreement is in place, it can apply for a special permit from the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals.
United Cultivation expects those steps to take at least six months.
After receiving a special permit, the business could begin retrofitting the buildings that are currently on the property and apply for licenses through the state’s Cannabis Control Commission, which licenses and grants final approval to establishments to open.
Ashby’s zoning bylaws allow one marijuana business that does cultivation and manufacturing in an industrial zone off of Fitchburg State Road and doesn’t set a size limit. United Cultivation’s grow facility would be that establishment.
Retail is allowed in the town’s residential commercial district, which is where United Cultivation wants to open its store.
Four cultivation operations are also allowed in the town’s agricultural district. Two can be indoor and up to 2,500 square feet and the rest can be outdoors and up to 5,000 square feet in size.
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