Marijuana greenhouse proposed for Hatfield-Whately town line

  • Hatfield Town Hall, 2019.

Staff Writer
Thursday, May 07, 2020

HATFIELD — A greenhouse-based marijuana-growing operation is being proposed for a site between Main Street and the Connecticut River at the Whately town line.

Bernie Smiarowski, the Hatfield farmer who owns the land bordered by Bashin Road in Hatfield and Pilvinis Road in Whately, and John Stobierski of Deerfield presented an overview of their plans to the Planning Board this week in advance of filing a request for a special permit.

Smiarowski said the idea is to build a “50,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art, computer-controlled greenhouse” that would initially accommodate 10,000 square feet of cannabis crops for medical and recreational use. A smaller building, up to 2,000 square feet, would be attached to process and store the product. Over time, the amount of cannabis grown could increase.

The parcel is just over 8 acres, with about 6 acres in Hatfield and 2 acres in Whately.

Another grow operation was considered by the Planning Board last year, proposed by a corporation known as Urban Grown. That proposal, from Stephen and Michael Herbert for use of a 6.8-acre property at 55 Depot Road, would have supplied medical and recreational dispensaries in Massachusetts. But it was withdrawn last fall after significant concerns were raised by nearby residents of Depot and Cronin Hill roads.

Noting that the entrances for the newly proposed project would be in Whately, and the site is 800 feet from Main Street in Hatfield and River Drive in Whately, Stobierski said he anticipates few issues would arise for Hatfield. 

“We think this would have very little impact on Hatfield,” Stobierski said.

“This is a perfect site for it — it’s not around many people, it’s in an agricultural area, there’s a lot of greenhouses in the area already.”

Planning Board Chairman Robert Wagner said while it is unknown how the community will react, the land is in an agricultural zone — even though marijuana is not considered an agricultural crop by the state — and that, aside from a security fence, it’s likely no one would know whether the site was growing cannabis or tulips.

Board member Jimmy Tarr said that being distant from homes, with most of the surrounding land owned by Nourse Farms, the plan may be preferable to the one submitted by Urban Grown.

“I think you guys are trying to go about it in the exact right way,” Tarr said.

Though he had sought to partner with the Herberts on the proposal, Smiarowski said they are not involved in the application to the Cannabis Control Commission. “We will be applying for a license ourselves,” Smiarowksi said.

In addition to the license and the need for a special permit from the Planning Board, Smiarowski and Stobierski will need to enter into a host community agreement with the Select Board.

The only marijuana-related business approved in Hatfield is Treeworks, which plans to open a cannabis manufacturing and processing facility at a site on Routes 5 and 10.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.