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Sarah Gapinksi of SK Design Group presents site designs for two marijuana facilities one outside, one inside to the Community Development Board.

Pittsfield Community Development Approves Two Marijuana Cultivator Site Plans

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Community Development Board approved two site plans Tuesday for marijuana cultivation establishments.
The first site plan is from J-BAM LLC that wants to open an indoor cultivation facility at 71 Downing Parkway, the former Coca-Cola warehouse.
"Basically the marijuana will be cultivated in modules, which will be manufactured off-site and brought to the facility," Sarah Gapinksi of SK Design Group, said. "It will be a hydroponic grow operation."
Gapinksi said J-BAM only looks to use 16,000 square feet of the 20,000 square-foot structure. The current owner of the building will maintain 4,000 square feet for its own use.
The entire plot is 3.4 acres.
Gapinksi said they are not proposing any exterior changes but will erect a security fence. She said the plan  is to reuse the existing sign and and add security cameras and lighting and add two parking spots.
She did add that the Fire Department asked that some unused cars on the property be removed.
The board did say J-BAM still have to execute a Host Community Agreement with the city.
Before making this approval, the board approved an application request from Northeast Cultivation LLC that wants to convert a farm at 997 Peck's Road to an outdoor cultivation facility.
Gapinksi, who also represented Northeast LLC, said the area is zoned agricultural and is about 6.7 acres but won't all be used for growing product. 
"It will be grown in a bag system placed on the ground and spread out throughout the area," she said. "We would not be developing 6.7 acres of marijuana; it will be spread out on 100,000 square feet."
She said the barn on the property will be reused for drying, manufacturing, and processing. The plan is to install two greenhouses for future use.
A fence will be placed around the property and there will be 24-hour surveillance but Gapinksi said the operation shouldn't be visible from the road. 
"It sits generally lower than Peck's Road and abutting properties can't see it," she said. "Houses, vegetation, and topography really make this part of the property pretty well hidden." 
The only question the board had was about smell and Gapinksi said abutters would likely only smell the product during peak growing season. She did add that there are other farms in the area.
Members of Northeast Cultivation LLC said they did hold a community meeting and did not receive any push back from neighbors.
The board recommended the plan to the Zoning Board of Appeals.
The board continued a special permit approval request from True East Leaf, another proposed marijuana cultivator at 161 Seymour St., because it did not have enough members present to award a special permit. 
The board approved a site plan to make a small addition to the Pediatric Development Center on Columbus Avenue. This plan was approved before but the work was never done.  

Tags: marijuana,   Planning Board,   

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Brien Center Honors Two at Annual UNICO Dinner

By Jeff SnoonianiBerkshires Correspondent

Ed Sutton spent years struggling with addiction but now is a counselor at the Brien Center, helping others dealing with substance abuse. Seen here with his wife, Karen, he spoke at the Brien Center's annual fundraising dinner. 
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — When Ed Sutton celebrated his 17th birthday in lockup, he knew something had to change. Like many addicts it took him several more years and realizations, and another stint behind bars to finally make that change permanent. 
At Thursday night's annual Brien Center/UNICO dinner at Berkshire Hills Country Club, he got to tell his story.
"I've used and abused substances for as long as I can remember. I went to my first detox when I was 16 years old. I turned 17 years old in a locked unit for people with mental health and substance abuse issues," he said. "It seemed everyone around me knew I had a problem except for me."
Sutton led an itinerant childhood under the thumb of his alcoholic, abusive biological father. After shuttling between Massachusetts and the state of Florida, he was barely able to make it to the 11th grade before quitting in the first week. If he blames his circumstances for his substance abuse, he didn't let on when addressing the crowd.
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