RICHMOND — The Planning Board has approved the development plan for a cannabis-growing facility on 5 acres of the Richmond Commons site on Route 138. The plan, presented by 66 Kingstown LLC, is the first cannabis cultivation application to be heard by the board, but it is not expected to be the last.
At its review session on Tuesday, the board heard further details of the 14,500-square-foot indoor facility, which will comprise four greenhouses and a warehouse and employ six to eight people. The greenhouses, designed and built by the Nexus Corporation in Colorado, will be transported to the site.
Company owner Steve Rohner said that the complex would be unobtrusive, set well back from the highway in the far east corner of the parcel.
“It’s a gable system, so there’s five peaks,” he said, describing the buildings. “Four of those peaks are the greenhouse peaks and there’s one warehouse and it’s a utility house. The building is really nondescript. It’s all the way at the back, so it’s roughly 500 feet from the road.”
The footprint of the facility, Rohner told the board, would be intentionally minimal and the woods at the front of the property as well as a small wetland would be left undisturbed.
Asked by member Carolyn Richard about security at the site, Rohner explained that as a condition of the cannabis cultivation license issued by the Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation, security cameras would monitor everyone at all times, and state regulators would have access to the tapes.
“With security cameras everywhere, there are signs posted that basically tell you you’re on 24-hour video surveillance,” he said. “There’s limited entries. All exits and entrances have video cameras and lighting.”
“It’s probably got tighter security than the credit union next door,” Board Chair Philip Damicis remarked, referring to the nearby Westerly Community Credit Union.
No marijuana would be processed at the facility. Buds would be harvested from the plants and stored until they are delivered to a licensed dispensary. The unused stems would be ground up and mixed with soil. Unlike other operations, which grow plants hydroponically, 66 Kingstown will grow its plants organically in soil.
The board took issue with only one feature of the facility, the outdoor lighting plan, which is not dark sky-approved.
“The face of the fixture where the lights are should be parallel to the ground, so it should be completely flat, and you should not be able to see any light from the side,” Damicis said. “This is like the exact opposite.”
The board unanimously approved the plan with the provision that the exterior lights be changed.
Rohner said he was ready to begin site work as early as next week.
“I’m very happy,” he said. “I’m excited to be in Richmond. I think this is a great town, and they were open to cannabis.”