The public will have a say in the major new marijuana facility in Wawarsing

Local residents of the town of Wawarsing will now have the opportunity to vote on a proposed major new marijuana facility in their town in Ulster County at a public hearing scheduled for Tuesday, January 18.

Cresco Labs proposed in August to take over the former Schrade Knife and Avnet Channel Master facilities in Wawarsing to create a marijuana cultivation, manufacturing and distribution facility on the 91-acre land that has stood empty for 17 years. Of this total footprint, 6.6 acres are within the village of Ellenville. Since the geographic distribution strongly favors the town of Wawarsing, it will oversee the project.

“We’re very supportive of that,” Village of Ellenville Mayor Jeff Kaplan said of the new facility. “We believe this will bring good jobs to the area, and this area in particular which has always been in an industrial site.”

The city passed resolutions to withdraw from dispensaries, salons

While local leaders have expressed enthusiasm for the proposed marijuana manufacturing facility, the city itself hasn’t laid the welcome mat for cannabis businesses there. Last year, the town of Wawarsing chose not to allow retail marijuana dispensaries and on-site consumer lounges within its borders.

The village of Ellenville, on the other hand, is all-out, saying yes to cannabis dispensaries and businesses. Kaplan said the village decided not to ban pot in Ellenville because it is legal at the state level.

“In all my conversations with [Wawarsing] city ​​officials…the city is cautious as it should be about going too far on a project, but they are supportive and optimistic about it,” said Tim Weidemann, director of economic development for the Ulster county. “I think their decision regarding recreational retail sales and on-site consumption reflects what most communities are grappling with right now: trying to understand the dynamics of this new law and balancing their desires to protect public health. and to safely and responsibly transition around a new cannabis regime.

The Town of Wawarsing did not respond with comment at press time.

The Wawarsing marijuana facility plaintiff is Valley Agriceuticals, LLC, which currently operates a medical marijuana manufacturing facility in the town of Wallkill and four medical marijuana dispensaries across the state. Its parent company is Chicago-based Cresco Labs, which operates in 10 states across the country where medical marijuana is legal.

Cresco initially suggested the processing plant would create 300 to 400 jobs with the addition of the approximately 380,000 square foot cultivation facility. But the latest proposal submitted suggests an increase in staff of up to 679 employees in the future. Parking and traffic assessments were conducted using this number, which estimates that 510 parked vehicles could be on site during the busiest shift.

“They’re optimistic that if the market takes off like people expect, they’ll grow from there for years to come,” Weidemann said.

But will it smell like weed?

Michael Colella, who ran unsuccessfully last fall for a seat on Wawarsing town council, said at the time of Cresco’s announcement that he would rather see another company move to town.

“We could use our available commercial property to create an industry that would be better for our community and society as a whole,” Colella said via email, suggesting the city should look to attract a business in a different industry, like battery technology. , electric cars or aerospace.

One question nearby residents had for this facility is whether the cannabis facility will emit a strong odor. According to the latest proposal submission, the plant will use carbon filtration systems to help reduce malodorous emissions, which is in line with industry standards. The property also plans to have a dedicated local employee to answer phone calls received regarding odor complaints. In another effort to prevent odors from escaping to the exterior, the proposal calls for the installation of air “curtains” at major exterior doors, which use forced air to create a pressurized barrier between the indoor and outdoor air.

Ellenville High School is located 300 meters south of the facility site and the nearest residential properties are 90 meters to the southwest.

Updated plans were submitted on December 29. According to plans, construction could be completed within 12 to 18 months of approvals. Once built, the plant would operate from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekdays.

“We’re really excited about the opportunity to bring high-quality jobs to an industry that’s on the cusp of significant growth on a site that’s been dormant for far too long into a community that can really use a helping hand. economic thumb,” Weidemann said.

The town of Wawarsing has a population of 12,580, with a median household income of $48,743; 17.9% of residents live in poverty, an amount 25% higher than the average rate in New York, according to US Census data. A large employer in the area is the maximum security Eastern Correction Facility, one of the oldest prisons in the state, located just down the road in Naponach.

“This is one of the greatest economic opportunities we’ve had in Ellenville in decades,” Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan said in a news release in August. “Cresco will transform a site that was once the beating heart of this economy into the economic engine it can and should be – providing well-paying jobs to local residents and putting Ulster County at the forefront of industry. rapidly growing cannabis. ”

Cresco Labs is not the first such new development offered in the Hudson Valley. In Orange County, Green Thumb Industries plans to build a cultivation and distribution facility at Warwick Technology Park on the site of the former Mid-Orange Correctional Facility.

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