HANSON — The Board of Selectmen, Tuesday, July 9 discussed concerns and questions over water and electricity use, odor and wastewater management as well as security of the building, and product and plant waste disposal at the proposed Cannabis grow facility planned for Commercial Street in Hanson.
“Tonight’s discussion is the first that the Board of Selectmen has had with Impressed LLC,” said Selectmen Chairman Laura FitzGerald-Kemmett. “The purpose of our discussion tonight is to hear from the applicant about their overall business plan, as well as to discuss some of the areas of concern.”
Impressed LLC owners Ralph and Alli Greenberg of Pembroke and Weymouth dentist Dr. Shahram Mogghadam, the company’s lawyer Christopher Ray, who works for national cannabis-related law firm, Hoban Law Group, and HVAC design engineer Paul Dean fielded Selectmen’s questions before those of residents were taken. [See related story, page 5.]
“Odor mitigation is the big concern for people,” FitzGerald-Kemmett said. “[Residents] don’t want the skunk smell.”
Dean said the HVAC system will use a heap-15 filter, carbon filter and ionized air to eliminate odors as a way to control smell while sterilizing ductwork. A back-up generator, run on diesel and timed to start within 90 seconds of a power failure is also planned to control odor as well as keep plants alive.
The town’s current general and zoning bylaws ban retail marijuana sales in Hanson, but zoning bylaws permit other marijuana businesses such as cultivation and testing facilities to locate in the zoned area that includes the industrial park. Impressed LLC must meet all local and state Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) regulations, including the execution of a host community agreement (HCA), FitzGerald-Kemmett reminded those in attendance.
A final draft version of the HCA will be discussed in a public meeting at 6 p.m., Tuesday, July 16 to hear residents’ feedback before the agreement comes up for approval and signing at the Tuesday, July 23 Selectmen’s meeting.
FitzGerald-Kemmett said the board has not yet seen the host agreement, but she said it has never been discussed as part of the town’s tax incentive finance (TIF) program and is not in the designated TIF zone.
“My background is used lab and scientific equipment,” Ralph Greenberg said. “I’m pretty involved with biotechnology and the understanding of how facilities should work with cleanliness and odor management.”
While he said he hopes to apply for a cannabis product manufacturing license at a later date, Ralph Greenberg stressed the current HCA only concerns a growing operation.
He said he will be the company’s operations manager and sales manager when product becomes ready for sale to in-state retail businesses. Local water supply company Indian Head Water has been contracted to supply water to the company. A tanker will be located at Impressed LLC and changed out every seven to 10 days, Ralph Greenberg said. No town water will be used for cultivation, only for bathroom services at the building, he stressed.
Ray, who now serves as general counsel to Impressed LLC during HCA negotiations and CCC application, said he would likely continue to serve the company in that capacity to help them keep compliant. Alli Greenberg will be the company’s cultivation director, responsible for all day-to-day management as well as licensing and regulation compliance as well as overseeing sales goals and hiring.
Hanson residents applying to work at the company would receive first priority, she said.
“Our commitment is to ensure the state-of-the-art facility is properly installed, that we’ll remove any odor that may otherwise escape our facility,” she said. “Furthermore, it is of the utmost importance [to us] to properly run a discreet location.”
Dean, the owner-operator of ICG — a design engineering firm and HVAC contractor — said he has worked on 16 cultivation sites in the state. Most of the board’s questions were directed to Dean.
Dean said hydrogen peroxide will be the only chemical used for cleaning, with the waste solution stored in a separate holding tank which will be tracked by a logbook when it is removed by a licensed contractor.
Disposal of plant waste will also be tracked and stored until it can be removed from the site for chemical treatment — rendering it unusable — before incineration off-site, owners have said.
Everything that enters or leaves the building, including plants that have died, will be tracked and reported to the CCC, Dean said. No pesticides will be used, per CCC regulations.
“It’s tested, so if we’re using it, they’ll find it — even heavy metals,” Dan said. Any batches where pesticides, or other chemicals are found to have been used, will be tracked and destroyed.
The building will use a nitogen-CO2 fire suppression system in the grow rooms along with an alarm connection to the fire department. There will be 64 internal cameras, many with high-resolution lenses to enable reading faces and badge photos, to enable proper access to secure areas, with only bathrooms not under camera surveillance.
“That’s your only safe spot in the building,” Dean said of bathroom privacy. Breaks and loitering outside the building are not permitted. State regulations also prohibit employees from using cannabis on, or within 10 miles of the property.
Selectman Matt Dyer asked about the company’s maintenance plan.
“What I don’t want to see is, the facility gets up and running if we approve it, and five years later we have a problem with the HVAC system because you didn’t do preventive maintenance.”
While Dean said his firm is not seeking that contract, he recommends a service plan to replace filters and clean coils every month.
Ralph Greenberg said he would be acting as the facilities manager to deal with that kind of service need.
Town attorney Kate Feodoroff said the town can use the HCA as a tool through which those conditions are enforced under threat of revocation, through Selectmen, the Planning Board or Board of Health.
Residents were advised to ask only questions about the business plan, odor and waste removal, security and other issues raised by the board.
“I want to make it clear tonight that we will not be discussing the legality, morality or safety of marijuana useage,” FitzGerald-Kemmett said. “Those are issues beyond the scope of the Hanson Board of Selectmen and would be more appropriately directed to your legislator or the Cannabis Control Commission.”
The first two questions — about why there is an “impression we have to sign this host agreement” and who pays for legal advice to fight if the town “wants to fight something” — skirted that admonition, and FitzGerald-Kemmett cut off that discussion, after allowing it for a time.
Feodoroff had advised that court rulings thus far have centered on municipal efforts to control the number of facilities. Hanson’s votes at town meetings, she said have led to bylaws allowing grow facilities in town.
“The Board of Selectmen is essentially negotiating with a seemingly responsible party to execute what the town meetings told them to do,” she said. “That’s the best answer I can give you.”
Hanson taxpayers ultimately pay town counsel fees for legal services required of town counsel.
Other questions centered on fire safety and the handling of cleaning chemicals, as well as the benefits of signing a host agreement.
Dean said chemical storage would be in a secure area segregated from other materials on-site.
Feodoroff said the HCA places “a lot of risk” on the marijuana establishments, ensures compliance and generates revenue from the 3-percent of gross sales community impact payment. Paid for five years, the impact fees could be used for any purpose, Feodoroff said, from training police in detecting whether people are driving under the influence of marijuana, to school drug awareness programs, or street improvements.
“You do need backup [information on the impact], and the backup is to all be documented in the public record, but the way you use the money is unrestricted,” Feodoroff said.