NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The City Council on Tuesday waived the right of first refusal on the Crane Stationery plant, clearing the way or its sale to Temescal Wellness.
The request was the only substantive issue on the agenda and, although seemingly straightforward, it engendered some discussion on its reasoning and the way it was presented on the agenda.
It caused some frustration for Temescal's attorney Joshua Lee Smith, who pointed out that the Planning Board had approved the cannabis cultivator's special permit and site plan the night before.
"Respectfully, I would hope that the council could be able to vote tonight in favor, so we can move forward," Smith said. "It's been a long road for us, we've had to get over a number of hurdles both at the state level but also at the local level."
Unless the city wanted to exercise its rights at a cost of $3.1 million, he didn't see the point of delaying.
The right of first refusal for the sale of any property in the Hardman Industrial Park is part of a long list of restrictive covenants dating to 1980 when the park was conveyed to the city by former Northern Berkshire Industrial Development Commission.
Smith said other restrictions on the park had long expired after 40 years but the right of first refusal was still in effect. Temescal was asking that the council confirm a "global" waiver already agreed to by Mayor Thomas Bernard in regard to two potential transactions. It would not affect the city's rights in any future sale.
"Consulting with our title company, they felt that it would be prudent to request an approval, not just from the mayor, but from the City Council, with respect to this," he said. "And so that's what we have done."
Temescal has signed a letter of intent to purchase the 41-year-old building and 10 acres for $3.1 million. The transaction will be to lIP-MA 7 LLC or to Temescal then to IIP-MA. Temescal will be the long-term tenant.
Councilors questioned why they were being asked to vote on this when the documents provided showed the mayor had the right to sign off on the waiver.
"The last time this was an issue that we were able to identify was, I believe in 1999," said Bernard. "We don't believe it went through council and we believe that the mayor exercised the right of first refusal at that time, but our attorney recommended that as a best practice that it be presented to the council."
Normally it would have come from the mayor's office, he said, but this was something of an unusual situation.
Councilor Marie T. Harpin wanted more information on history of the covenant, Councilor Wayne Wilkinson suggested Temescal pay a price for the waiver (and was called out of order) and Councilor Lisa Blackmer said she supported the sale but would like to see language since the agenda did not indicate a vote.
There was a suggestion to wait two weeks but Smith said he had worked with the city solicitor and had supplied the letter stating what was needed with supporting documents.
"It would be very disappointing to myself and my team, to my client, as well as the seller if we had to push this out because we don't have specific language on the vote," he said. "I can tell you the language that we need, it's really just that the council vote a motion to approve the right of first refusal as set forth in the letter and you can make reference to the letter dated April 5 as submitted by me, by counsel."
The council voted unanimously to approve the waiver. Council President Paul Hopkins, referring to Harpin's question, told the mayor the council would like more information on the industrial park; Wilkinson apologized, saying his "background was to negotiate."
The council also approved the transfer of $2,000 from the Tinker Fund to support continued work at Hill Side Cemetery. The restoration group has straightened and restored some 1,500 gravestones.
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