Green Thumb Growers LLC, a marijuana cultivation microbusiness, plans to open in the former Butterworth building on Lakeview Avenue. (Screenshot from Facebook Live taken by Meg McIntyre)
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DRACUT — The growing list of marijuana businesses coming to town grew again last week, when the Board of Selectmen approved a special permit and license for Green Thumb Growers LLC, a micro-cultivation operation planning to open at 1935 Lakeview Ave.

Co-owner Alex Bailey of Watertown, who said he is one of five owners overseeing Green Thumb Growers LLC, gave the board an overview of the company, which is subject to state-mandated volume and ownership residency requirements due to its designation as a microbusiness.

But first, Bailey asked the board for feedback on whether it was open to hearing the proposal via Zoom, the platform used for the meeting. The issue previously came up in an April meeting, when the board deadlocked on a permit and license for proposed marijuana retailer BKPN LLC after Selectmen Joseph DiRocco Jr. and Alison Hughes raised concerns about gathering public comment on the company’s application virtually.

Last week, DiRocco again objected to taking public input via Zoom, but after hearing no other opposition, Chairman Jesse Forcier opted to go ahead with the presentation and public hearing.

According to Bailey, the company is leasing the former Butterworth building on Lakeview Avenue and plans to use 3,400 square feet of the space for its growing area. He noted that the growing rooms will be sealed to mitigate any odor from the plants, and the business will have no interaction with the public, as it will not be authorized for retail sales. The owners plan to complete renovations on the building to bring it up to current fire and building codes, as well as improvements to the outside of the structure to make it more aesthetically pleasing.

The business will likely have 10-12 employees, at least half of which will be Dracut residents, though Bailey said the owners are shooting for 100% of employees to live in Dracut. The company plans to transport up to 50 pounds of product a week, typically in three to five delivery trips to retailers, he said. Its security plan has been approved by Police Chief Peter Bartlett.

“It is a very beautiful building and it’s in a very blighted area, so I mean, one of the biggest sells I see from my perspective is that you’re going to improve a blighted area,” Vice Chairman Tony Archinski said of the proposal. ” … It’s also located in an area in Collinsville that we’re actually looking to develop economic development in that area, so I like the idea of it.”

Though several members of the public logged onto the virtual meeting using Zoom, none spoke on the proposal. After limited discussion, the selectmen approved the license and special permit 4-1, with DiRocco voting against the motion. Green Thumb will now move forward in the process to obtain a provisional license from the state’s Cannabis Control Commission.

To date, the Board of Selectmen has approved three special permits and licenses for retail marijuana outfits in Dracut: GreenStar Herbals, to open at 76 Pleasant St.; Lazy River Products LLC, to open at 145 Broadway Road; and New England Craft Cultivators LLC, to open at 61 Silva Lane. Lazy River Products has also received approval for on-site cultivation.

The town’s bylaws stipulate that the number of local licenses issued for retail marijuana establishments can’t exceed 20% of the number of liquor licenses issued for off-premises consumption, which would allow for four in all, according to Forcier. Under state law, the town is also required to approve a minimum of four, according to Town Counsel James Hall. But since it is not a retail operation, Green Thumb’s permit and license are not considered one of the four available for approval.

The board has also approved a license and special permit for MassBiolytics, a cannabis testing laboratory slated to open at 20 Commercial Drive, which is also not subject to the four-license maximum.

Other actions the board took last week include:

  • Approved a special permit for New Cingular Wireless to mount AT&T small cell equipment on a new utility pole in the area of 1095 Lakeview Ave.
  • Approved a request to relocate a National Grid utility pole that will be affected by the construction of the new fire station on Nashua Road
  • Voted to grant and sign an easement to National Grid to provide service at the new fire station on Nashua Road
  • Approved a class II used car dealers license for Northeast Cars on Merrimack Avenue
  • Voted to renew a license for GreenStar Herbals, a marijuana retailer planning to open on Pleasant Street. The board originally approved a license for the retailer last year, but the shop has not yet opened.
  • Approved a common victualler’s license for A.L. Prime Energy Consultant, Inc. on Bridge Street
  • Accepted a donation to the town from Eastern Bank
  • Voted to delay action on Police Chief Peter Bartlett’s employment contract
  • Appointed law firm Miyares Harrington as labor counsel to the town