Marijuana cultivator eyes agreement with Belchertown

  • A marijuana plant AP PHOTO/JULIO CORTEZ

Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 02, 2019

BELCHERTOWN — A marijuana growing business is in talks with Belchertown officials to open a cultivation facility at 401 Mill Valley Road.

Emory Snell and Justin Nevins, the owners of Chicopee-based E & J Supply LLC, attended a Select Board meeting last week asking for a host community agreement to establish the cultivation facility.

E & J Supply already leases about 6,500 square feet of space at 401 Mill Valley Road, and “3,000 square feet, give or take,” would be dedicated to growing the marijuana, co-owner Justin Nevins said Monday.

“This is not a Budweiser of marijuana growing,” Palmer attorney Geoffrey Farrington, who represents E & J Supply, said at the Select Board meeting. “This is like your local craft brewery, so to speak, and it probably always will be that way.”

No agreement was reached at the meeting, as Select Board members told the owners to speak with Police Chief Christopher Pronovost for his approval and then return to the board.

“I believe in incubating businesses in this town, and supporting what are now legal businesses,” Select Board member Nick O’Connor said. “But I think because of the type of business this is, I’m going to want the chief to co-sign it or at least get a heads up.”

Select Board Vice Chairwoman Gail Gramarossa also advised adding additional language to the proposed host community agreement regarding odor mitigation measures, and asked the owners to consult with the Board of Health. Some towns, such as Monson, have had “significant concerns around odor control” in regards to marijuana cultivation facilities, Gramarossa said.

If approved, the cultivator would be the first of its kind in town, although two recreational marijuana dispensaries signed host community agreements with the town in the spring.

One of these two dispensaries, the Stow-based Evergreen Strategies LLC, was originally set to locate at 39 Federal St., although the company’s president Anthony Parrinello proposed moving the dispensary to the adjacent 20 George Hannum St., citing parking concerns from other tenants at the Federal Street plaza. The Select Board voted unanimously to approve the change in location at a June 10 meeting.

Evergreen Strategies will host a community outreach meeting for the proposed dispensary Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at 20 George Hannum St., Suite B.

The other recreational dispensary, owned by the Springfield-based Kalyx LLC, is set to locate at the nearby Family Dollar building at 125 North Main St.

The E & J Supply facility would sell to dispensaries, Snell told the Select Board, but no specific customers have been finalized yet. He said has experience selling medical marijuana about 15 years ago through a co-op in Portland, Oregon. The Belchertown facility will be Nevins’ first venture in the marijuana industry, he told the board.

Nevins said Monday that there is “definitely a possibility” that the cultivation business may sell its products to the upcoming Belchertown dispensaries, although their proximity did not factor into the decision to locate the facility in town.

“We looked in a few cities,” Nevins said. “I really liked the site here in Belchertown quite a bit, and the town seemed amicable to work with us, and they have been.”

Jacquelyn Voghel can be reached at jvoghel@gazettenet.com.