Public hearing addresses proposed marijuana processing facility

Jun 12, 2019

A Colorado-based marijuana company made its case for a special permit to move into the Tremont Nail site.

On June 12, Organa Brands, represented by Project Manager Andre DeVorss and engineer William Madden, outlined the company’s plans to open a processing facility inside a 12,400 building on the Elm Street property. While the property is historic, the steel building itself is not, dating back to only the 1970s.

The company has already secured an agreement with the Town of Wareham, which stipulates the company must pay the town $184,000 in annual rent, and up to a maximum of $300,000 each year, depending on how much business the company does. The special permit would utilize an overlay district approved at Town Meeting last year.

As a processing facility, no retail sales would take place at the site. Between 30 to 50 part and full-time employees would work at the location, initially in two shifts — although Madden said they would like to see the flexibility to add a third shift if business demands it.

Hearing officer Mark Bobrowski asked the applicant a number of questions about the setup, operation, and concerns about the project.

When asked about odors, Madden said strict quality control measures in each room where processes take place ensure no odors escape outdoors, through temperature control and carbon filtering of exhaust air.

In a letter on the project from the Wareham Sewer Department, there was a question raised about the pump station located on site. Madden said the facility will not use a significant amount of water. Processing marijuana is mostly mechanical, he said, and water usage would come from typical office sources like employees using the bathrooms and the lunch room.

Only a few people attended the hearing, and one person spoke against the proposal. Angela Dunham, speaking as a town resident, said they’ll have to “wait and see” if there really are no odors. She also shared her concern with traffic in and around Elm Street from the facility, noting children frequently walk in the area to visit several historical buildings.

“I just want you to be aware we have people on foot going back and forth here,” she said.

The company plans to transport product to and from the facility in box trucks, according to DeVorss. He said tractor trailers are not used for that purpose.

After closing the public hearing, Bobrowski said he will have 90 days to make a decision on whether or not Organa Brands will get its special permit.