POWNAL — Pownal has received an application for a small-scale marijuana cultivation facility, and several inquiries about retail establishments.
Like other Vermont towns, Pownal finds itself discussing marijuana cultivation and retail sales as the state’s licensing process moves toward implementation this summer and fall.
The town has approved allowing retail operations. Zoning Administrator Mike Gardner briefed the Select Board at a recent meeting about the interest he has seen. He suggested a meeting of town officials to discuss the pending issuance of licenses through the Vermont Cannabis Control Board, likely beginning in July.
The application for a cultivation greenhouse facility off Middle Pownal Road is expected to go to a public meeting on June 15, town Executive Assistant Tara Parks said Tuesday in an email.
“We have a meeting scheduled with the Development Review Board, Planning Commission and Select Board on May 19th to further discuss cannabis as it pertains to retail and cultivation, at which time zoning and other questions should be addressed,” she said.
The cultivation facility applicant, Chris Lussier, grew up in town but now works in commercial real estate in the Dallas area. Lussier graduated from Mount Anthony Union High School in 2007 and later from Castleton University before serving in the Navy.
The proposed site at 70 Horseshoe Lane is owned by his family. The road, which ends in a cul-de-sac, is off Middle Pownal Road, and the address is at the end of a long drive off Horseshoe Lane — between the end of Puddingstone Road and the rear of Barber Pond.
The proposed Quonset hut-style greenhouse would be 30 feet by 35 feet and 15 feet high, according to the application, and would be on a .93-acre site. As per state requirements, the site will have fencing — including green mesh screening — and video monitoring.
“The idea is to start small,” Lussier said in a phone interview Wednesday.
That includes beginning with a tier 1-size growing area, under the state’s application class definition. In his case, he will be working with 1,000 square feet to grow up to 125 plants.
The operation will not include grow lights, Lussier said, and will have an annual growing season of roughly June through September.
At this point, he added, it appears unlikely he can get a license and start plants in time for a harvest this season.
Lussier will be a small producer who plans to sell his product to a marijuana wholesaler for distribution. He said he’s not interested in seeking a retail license at this time.
His immediate intention is to meet with town officials and secure local approvals before seeking a required license through the Cannabis Control Board.
Under the state’s authorizing legislation, communities have leeway through zoning provisions as to where marijuana facilities can be in a town, but cultivation projects must be treated like other development projects concerning zoning requirements. That could include setbacks and similar bylaw restrictions.
The Cannabis Control Board is expected to begin issuing licenses to marijuana businesses by July 1.
At this point, it appears Manchester is alone in the county in beginning the process to amend zoning requirements to specify where retail marijuana businesses may be located. Other towns, including Bennington, have yet to do so.