The former Holy Family Church near Berkshire Medical Center will be transformed into 10 high-end apartments.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Community Development Board has signed off on plans to turn the former KFC on East Street into a medical marijuana dispensary.
The board approved the site plan by Happy Valley Compassion Center on Tuesday night and the company now needs approvals from the Zoning Board of Appeals and a license from the state Department of Public Health.
The medication would be grown at a leased site in Bernardston and then shipped to Pittsfield. According to Richard Marks, the project manager working on behalf of Happy Valley, the deliveries would be made through a fenced off and secured location in the back.
"Our goal would be to have the grow location under construction in the next 60 days," said CEO Jim Coumiham, adding that the company is currently working on figuring out the zoning for the grow site in Bernardston. "We can only move as fast as the cities, towns, and the Department of Public Health."
The company has an option to buy the vacant KFC and will exercise it if the permits are all granted. The building would be renovated to have a secured entrance and reception desk, and then a sales room, conference rooms, consulting rooms, and administrative offices.
"All the product that is in the store will be in the safe at night, nothing will be left out," Marks said, adding that the facility wouldn't keep more than 10 pounds at any given time.
At the front door, a reception desk will allow the patients access after checking credentials and registration cards, which are given to patients prescribed the medication.
"In order to get into the building, you must be registered and have a card," he said.
The company estimates upward of 130 patients a day, some taking just a few minutes to go in and out and others consulting with the staff for longer about the products.
The building would require renovation but outside, David Frothingham III, an engineer with Wilcox and Barton, said the half-acre lot will remain mostly the same. The site would be cleaned and the only additions will include four trees in the rear of the property, and signage. The one-way traffic pattern around the building will remain and use the existing curb cuts.
"It will definitely improve the site," he said.
There will be 21 spots configured on the property and the only additional impervious surfaces would be for the delivery area in the back. There are also six light poles that will remain but the lights will be replaced. There will also be provisions in place to slow and filter water running off the property and into Silver Lake.
The company will go before the ZBA next week for the special permit.
In other business, developer David Carver received site plan approval for a proposed project to renovate and reuse the former Holy Family Church on Seymour Street.
Carver is planning to renovate the former church into market-rate housing units, similar to what he's done with the former Notre Dame School and the Our Lady of Mercy Church in North Adams. The $1.8 million renovation would create 10 housing units.
"Essentially what we've got is the footprint will stay the same except for a kitchen in the rear," said attorney Dennis Egan.
The kitchen area added in the 1970s and a garage would both be torn down for parking. Robert Macintosh, landscape engineer with Bradley Architects, said a new set of stairs would be built on the backside as a form of egress and pine trees by the existing parking lot would be removed. The large chestnut tree on the property will remain and parking would be configured around it.
"The parcel we are acquiring includes the parking lot and the church," Carver said, adding that the existing curb cut will be used.
The lights on the facility would be motion sensored and additional tree screening would be added in the front for privacy. The parcel abuts a mostly unused section of Wahconah Park and parking lots on either side.
Also remaining on site would be a shrine put up by the church that will still see visitors every once in a while.
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