Meriden planners OK city’s first cannabis micro-cultivator



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MERIDEN — The city’s Planning Commission unanimously voted to grant provisional approval for Gold Leaf Cultivation of North Haven to operate a cannabis micro-cultivation operation at 45 Gracey Ave.

Gold Leaf’s application is the first cannabis growing operation cleared by the commission since it drafted rules regulating the cannabis industry. Two provisional retail dispensary applications have been approved along with one medical hybrid application. All are waiting for licensure by the state before getting final city approval. 

Partners Chadd Burlingame and Jonathan Gamble of North Haven, doing business as Gold Leaf, applied for the provisional approval in February but the commission voted to continue the public hearing to allow them time to address concerns about odor control.

“This has definitely been an extensive and fun learning journey this far,” Burlingame said. “...I’m super excited about what Meriden has to offer and what the space has to offer. We’ ve been looking in Meriden, Thomaston, East Lyme. But Meriden has that excitement to bring in micro cultivation. We’ll see if we can move forward with the application.” 

If approved by the state, the operation will occupy about 10,000 square feet of space in the rear of Pyramid Time Systems.

A micro-cultivator is a grow facility between 2,000 to 10,000 square feet with the ability to expand up to 25,000 square feet. The company will partner with Agrify of Massachusetts on the vertical growing operation and ventilation systems. Burlingame told commissioners. Agrify, a publicly traded corporation, develops growing systems, lighting, ventilation and proprietary software to assist hemp and cannabis growers through all phases of an indoor vertical farming operation, according to its website.

Deliveries will be made to wholesalers, dispensaries and direct to consumers in secure vans. The company expects to hire between 15 and 20 employees and expand in three to five years.

When drafting the cannabis regulations, the commission agreed the operations cannot be within 250 feet of a residential area to prevent complaints about odors and limited the number of micro growers to three. The nearest residence on Kensington Avenue is 287 feet away.

Green Leaf representatives shared an odor control plan that uses HVAC filtration technology to ensure each vertical growing unit has its own filtration system. The building will have enough parking for 30 vehicles. A traffic study showed the operation would not impact traffic flow.

Commissioners approved the plan last week with the following conditions:

The final parking plan shall be submitted for approval by planning staff. The plan shall show areas to be repaired and striped. 

A revised odor control plan shall be submitted for approval prior to issuance of a final special exception permit. The plan shall reflect the final interior layout as approved by the state Department of Consumer Protection and shall be certified by a professional engineer, or certified industrial hygienist, or staff equivalent.

The city continues to see considerable interest in cannabis operations, said Economic Development Director Joseph Feest. Delays in getting the new industry up and running are due to the state’s licensing process, which is now a lottery system.

Some companies are getting space first, then getting state approvals, others are getting approvals first, Feest said.

 “I don’t mind the cultivating part of it. It’s like any type of manufacturing but there are more controls about things like odors,” Feest said. “I like the fact that some of these vacant spaces are going back on the tax rolls, but as an added bonus, there are opportunities for jobs.”

Reach reporter Mary Ellen Godin at mgodin@record-journal.com.




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