Ulster County Approved Marijuana Production Facility

Ulster County is about to open a major new marijuana production plant that promises hundreds of jobs.

Cresco Labs has received final plan approval for a 380,000 square foot facility to grow, manufacture and distribute cannabis. The Town of Wawarsing Planning Board gave the green light to the nearly $9 million project at its March 15 meeting. The decision was unanimous, with one absence.

The planning approval process “was faster than most projects,” said Ulster County Economic Development Manager Tim Weidemann. “It’s a model of what we should try to do for other big projects. We’ve seen so many of them get stuck in this process, and now we have a roadmap for others.

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, this municipality oversees the project.

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 originally expected 300 to 400 jobs to be created at the processing plant, but increased that estimate to 679 future employees, as stated in the approved proposal. Parking and traffic assessments were undertaken using this number, which estimates that 510 parked vehicles could be on site during the busiest shift.

During the public hearing process, some residents expressed concern that the cannabis facility was emitting a strong odor. According to the approved 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 respond to odor complaints over the phone. 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.

Riverkeeper also expressed concerns about the new facility, particularly the impacts on wastewater from the nearby Naponach Wastewater Treatment Facility from potential pollutants that could seep into nearby waterways. such as Rondout Creek and the Hudson River. The Town of Wawarsing Environmental Conservation Committee has followed suit with similar concerns. Cresco Labs responded by saying the project is in balance with the environment, and also noted that the Naponach wastewater treatment plant is being upgraded and upgraded.

Financial and regulatory approvals are the next steps for Cresco Labs.

Cresco Labs must work with the Cannabis Control Board and Office of Cannabis Management to obtain an adult use license for a vertically integrated operation that includes cultivation, processing, and distribution, but not sales. They are currently authorized under the medical program. Additionally, Cresco Labs is working with the Ulster County Industrial Development Agency and banks for project financing options.

Weidemann said Cresco Labs is still on track to get shovels in the ground by the end of the second quarter of this year. Construction could be completed within 12-18 months after all approvals.

“Every win adds momentum to the project,” Weidemann said. “It’s a big win, but they still have challenges ahead. It’s hard to know how important they will be until we face them.

Cresco Labs is not the first cannabis production facility proposed 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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