Sheffield: Marijuana business to hold forum March 27; two large-scale solar projects slated

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A budding business could be on the horizon in Sheffield.

Berkshire Welco LLC is hosting a public information session Tuesday, March 27, at 7 p.m. at the Sheffield Town Hall. The notice mentions only that the session concerns “a proposed marijuana establishment” for 1375 North Main St.

Berkshire Welco is located in Great Barrington and, according to state documents, is managed by Christopher Weld and Michael Cohen. The duo visited a Select Board meeting in December to talk about establishing a recreational marijuana dispensary in Sheffield.

No applications or plans had been filed with the town as of March 22. Reached by phone Thursday, Cohen said he wanted to check with other people involved with the business before commenting.

Neither Select Board Chairman David Smith, the spokesperson for the panel, nor Town Administrator Rhonda LaBombard could be reached for comment.

Berkshire Welco isn’t the only business interested in bringing recreational marijuana to Sheffield.

Ted Dobson of Equinox Farm has expressed interest in growing marijuana. In January a man named Joshua Kowan stopped by the Select Board meeting to discuss his idea for a “recreational marijuana cultivation facility” in town.

Before Berkshire Welco — or any marijuana business — can open, the company will need a license from the state. Massachusetts will begin accepting applications for priority recreational marijuana businesses status April 2. For companies that secured the priority designation, the first chance to apply for a recreational marijuana license is April 16.

Cultivators, craft marijuana cooperatives and testing labs can start applying for licenses May 1. Marijuana retailers, manufacturers and transporters can seek licenses starting June 1.

Solar projects in works

Two large-scale solar arrays have been proposed for the town and one already has Planning Board approval.

Earlier this month, the Planning Board held public hearings on two projects: a nearly 4-megawatt array on a 49-acre Home Road parcel, submitted by Solar MA Projects Management LLC Services of Connecticut — which was unanimously approved; and a 3.5-megawatt array on a 26-acre Clayton Road property, submitted by Park Avenue Solar Solutions also of Connecticut — which is under review.

The approved Solar MA project must wait for a 20-day appeal period, following the Planning Board’s decision to issue a special permit. The period started March 20.

The project’s ground-mounted solar array will cover almost 8 of the parcel’s acres and will include two 1.5-megawatt solar arrays and one 0.8-megawatt array.

In its application, Solar MA said the apparatus will emit a humming sound, but only during the day. Wires will be buried underground. The property is owned by Custom Extrusion of Sheffield and construction is anticipated to take four to six months.

The plan notes that the site, part of which is used to produce hay, is home to endangered animals and plants, but construction will not be done near these habitats.

The Planning Board will continue the hearing on Park Avenue’s proposal. This project is similar to the one already approved. It too is a ground-mounted solar array with buried wires on vacant land that is sometimes used for growing corn.

The array would take up about 12.7 acres of the 26-acre property, which used to be a gravel pit. There would be about 10,000 solar photovoltaic modules, or panels, placed in the field.

Park Avenue estimates the array could generate enough energy to power “hundreds of homes.” The property is owned by Christopher and Diana Williams. If approved by the Planning Board, construction would take two to three months.

 

By: Berkshire Eagle

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