The town of Athol is working on an agreement to allow the old Union Twist Drill Company mill to be used as a commercial marijuana grow site. The building is set to become not only a cultivation site, but also an extraction facility and manufacturing site for the marijuana industry. The new project could open up as many as 500 jobs in the local area.
In October, a letter of non-opposition via 4 – 1 vote allowing the business, according to Telegram. Herbology Group Inc. intends to use the facility. The company already has provisional licensing. The old mill is attractive to Herbology Group due to is appropriate zoning and amount of land needed for indoor cultivation.
Frank Perullo, spokesman for Herbology, said, “Once we find a site that is zoned appropriately that meets state buffer requirements, like (away from) common areas where children congregate and the requirement of the town buffer, we are interested. This site is perfect. It is secure, surrounded by a river and railroad, and there is only one entrance. Athol is the only property right now in our sights. We love the property. It is the way to go.”
The residents of Athol have seemed receptive to the company’s use of the mill so far. The first step of the process of preparing the building is renovating a 100,000-sqft. portion of the 365,000-sqft. building. The renovations will be done in phases until the entire building is complete.
Herbology hopes to be operational by the second fiscal quarter of 2018. With that comes the opening of 200 full-time jobs paying at least $15-per-hour. When the “clean-room technology” portion is completed, about 300 more jobs will be added with varying skill levels.
Perullo said, “The next step is to finalize the real estate transaction and work with the town on our special permit. We are also in the process of creating an agreement with the town for a lasting and long-term relationship with the town for town resources we need to help our business grow and to make sure we take care of the town.”
Perullo hopes that the agreement between Herbology and Athol will be complete within the next few weeks.
Selectman Lee Chauvette, the chairman, is supportive of the project.
He said, “I believe it is a great reuse of the mill facility. The area needs employment opportunities. Hundreds of jobs could be housed at the proposed facility. I have researched the various people involved in the proposal and Sea Hunter Therapeutics appears to be well-funded and able to take on the project. Herbology Group Inc. has been issued a provisional certificate for another project in Chester, Mass.”
Bill Purple owns the building now, his daughter Cindy Harwell (and her husband Chuck) are also supportive of the new project.
Cindy Hartwell said, “It’s exciting if it happens, but we’re very far away from it happening. We want it to happen and want jobs to come to town.”