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Pittsfield ZBA Approves Marijuana Retailer Plan Changes

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Zoning Board of Appeals has approved some changes to a proposed marijuana retail and cultivation facility on West Street.
Pure Botanicals LLC plans presented plans last week to build a two-story structure at 239 West St. to facilitate retail, storage, and office space.
"Good luck and this is a difficult process for all those involved but we will work through this," Chairman Albert Ingegni III said.
The board already approved a site plan that focused the operation in an existing structure on the property. The company planned to use 7,000 square feet of a 13,000-square-foot existing structure. The front of the building is currently used as a medical parts manufacturer and Pure Botanicals looked to work out of the back of the building.
Pure Botanicals now wants to construct a two-story, 1,800-square-foot premanufactured quonset hut that will house retail on the first floor and storage and office space on the second floor.
The owners elected to make this change to avoid a steep grade that may be difficult for patrons to ascend at the back of the existing structure.
Also, by moving aspects of the business to a new structure, they can use all of the 7,000 square feet in the existing structure for cultivation. Pure Botanicals plans to add two more 200-square-foot cultivation rooms.
Other than that, Pure Botanicals looks to hire the same amount of employees, need the same amount of parking, and expects the same amount of traffic and has not deviated from the original special permit that was granted.
The amendment was also approved by the Community Development Board.
Board member John Fitzgerald asked if the project was signed off on by the building inspector, which it was not.
"I have a little difficulty if this has not gone before the building inspector," he said. "I don't want to give you permission to build ... and get something that we never actually looked at."
Nate Joyner, permitting coordinator, said building permits typically are not applied for until after ZBA approval is granted. He added that the premanufactured buildings are already designed to code. 
Also, Pure Botanicals cannot actually receive the blueprints from the manufacturer until it purchases the structure.   
The Zoning Board of Appeals did add this as a condition and the permit will be contingent on building inspector approval.
The other concern was odor and Fitzgerald felt that with more cultivation, it would have to change the plans for more odor mitigation.
"I think the plans should be submitted to an independent study," he said. "How will you upgrade air quality. This is based on a system that was for a smaller cultivation."
Pure Botanicals uses modular systems so each 200-square-foot room would have its own filtration system.
This was a second condition placed on the permit. If an issue over odor does arise in the neighborhood, Pure Botanicals must become before the board to discuss mitigation. 
Fitzgerald had an overarching concern about the city's position in enforcing odor issues and what can be done if it can't be mitigated. He then aired his concerns that odor would inevitably escape and effect the neighborhood.
"They had a good quality of life and all of the sudden you build your building there now there is a certain whiff in the air," he said.
Board member Esther Bolen said this issue, among others, has already been hashed out in the original special permit granting. She added that no one from the neighborhood was at Wednesday night's meeting to speak in opposition.

Tags: ZBA,   marijuana,   

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MEMA Grant Puts Emergency Medical Kits in Pittsfield Schools

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff

Police Chief Michael Wynn, left, Fire Chief Thomas Sammons and Eric Lamoureaux, community coordinator for the Pittsfield Public Schools, at Monday's announcement. 
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — All city public schools will receive backpack trauma kits equipped to handle a multitude of emergency situations.
Fire Chief Thomas Sammons alongside Police Chief Michael Wynn and Eric Lamoureaux of the Pittsfield Public Schools announced Monday the delivery of 15 trauma kits that were secured through a Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency grant.
"This is a whole approach the city is taking in responding to an active shooter," Sammons said at Fire Department headquarters on Monday morning. "The Police and Fire Department have worked together on active shooter scenarios and these kits have a lot of the same items that we carry and deploy."
Sammons said the grant was submitted in the fall and was a joint effort between the Fire, Police, and School departments. The grant was $9,735 in total; each kit cost around $650.
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