A cannabis business narrowly received approvals to open a cultivation facility and recreational marijuana shop in a vacant industrial building, despite concerns that it may add traffic to an already congested area.
Revolution Greencare LLC. is now close to becoming the third cannabis business to open in the city once the owners, Adam Brady, of Colorado, and David Peskin, of Holyoke, receive final approvals from the state Cannabis Control Commission. Earlier the two said they hope to open by the end of this year.
The City Council approved a special permit for the company in a 9-4 vote Tuesday night. A two-thirds majority of the 13-member board had to vote yes for the permit to be granted.
Brady and Peskin purchased the roughly 80,000 square-foot building and 1.9 acres of land which is zoned for industry in 2016 for $425,000, deed records show. Most of the building at 30 Buckley Blvd. is to be used for cultivation and the retail store will be about 1,300 square feet.
“I drive by this all the time and I do see a lot of traffic here,” said Councilor Frank Laflamme, who voted against the permit. “I was for cultivation because you know how many vehicles will be there… I do have a problem with recreational because we don’t know how many cars will go there.”
While multiple councilors agreed there can be traffic congestion at the complicated intersection of Yelle, Prospect, and Montgomery streets and Buckley Boulevard, many felt the traffic could be managed especially since the owners agreed to accept customers by appointment only.
Councilors also approved an amendment to the special permit that would require the company to hire off-duty officers to direct traffic if the police chief decides it is necessary. That came at the suggestion of Councilor Robert Zygarowski, a retired police officer who said traffic has been a problem for years in that area.
The combination of reusing an old industrial building, adding about 40 jobs that pay between $15 and $30 an hour and bringing revenue to the city outweighs possible traffic problems, Councilor George Balakier said.
A traffic study showed the business would not make current conditions worse and there are several entrances to the property that will help reduce problems, he said.
“The traffic, it could be a problem, but not a serious problem, and it is something perhaps that can be worked out” by requiring appointments, he said.
About a half-dozen residents and business owners spoke in favor of the project but Carol Campbell, owner of Chicopee Industrial Contractors, which is on North Chicopee Street and one of several industrial businesses on the property next to 30 Buckley Blvd., said she is concerned about customers walking in the same area where heavy equipment and trucks are being operated all the time.
“I admit it is an eyesore and something has to be done there,” Campbell said of the building, adding it was the retail portion of the business, not the cultivation, that was her concern.
City Planner Lee Pouliot said the property is zoned industrial so all types of businesses could move in there by right and could have a much larger impact on traffic than the proposed Revolution Greencare. He also spoke about the concern that the building could fall into further disrepair and become another abandoned industrial property similar to the Uniroyal complex.
“We all know what happens when these type of industrial buildings sit vacant or semi-vacant for too long,” Pouliot said. “You have an opportunity to see an investment in the property now and it is certainly worth your consideration.”
The council first voted to grant a waiver to the special permit regulations that require a 100-foot buffer of trees and other plantings between a residential property and cannabis facility in an 8-5 vote.
Councilor Gary Labrie and Zygarowski, who voted against the waiver, joined councilors Balakier, Gerard Roy, Joel McAuliffe, William Courchesne, Derek Dobosz, Frederick Krampits and Stanley Walczak to vote to grant the special permit. Those who voted against it were Laflamme, council president Shane Brooks, James Tillotson and Lucien Galecki, who initially voted to grant the waiver.
Labrie said he changed his vote after touring 30 Buckley Blvd. and realizing the extent of work the building needs.