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Proposed marijuana facility in Wawarsing concerns environmental groups – Daily Freeman
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Proposed marijuana facility in Wawarsing concerns environmental groups – Daily Freeman

ELLENVILLE, N.Y.A proposal to open a cannabis processing, packaging, and distribution facility was made by a Chicago-based company. It has faced opposition and support as it moves through the planning process.

Riverkeeper and the Wawarsing Environmental conservation Commission (ECC), raised concerns about the plan at a Planning Board meeting earlier this month. The plan received a recommendation by the Ulster County Planning Board.

In a two-page submission, Robert A. Leibowitz, principal planner for the county Planning Board wrote, “The Ulster County Planning Board would like to congratulate the applicant, as well as the town and village, on this proposed development, which will revitalize a long under-utilized site that will once again help to serve as a cornerstone of the town’s economic activity.”

The county Planning Board statement added that the community and Cresco “should have an ongoing discussion” about “potential odor complaints,” noting the presence of a nearby school.

But the town ECC and Riverkeeper raised concerns about the potential for wastewater runoff from the property into the nearby Rondout Creek, which is a tributary of the Hudson River, and the use of water from the Napanoch Water District.Additionally, the ECC report raised the issue of “potential nutrients such as nitrates, phosphates, and total suspended solids” possibly winding up “in our streams.” The ECC was critical of what it deems “no response” from Cresco to parts of the Environmental Assessment Form requesting “plans or designs to capture, recycle or reuse liquid wastewater.”

“In conclusion, we are not experts regarding the growing and processing of cannabis. But we do believe that climate change will impact our drinking water supply in the future so to conserve now seems to be a good strategy for resilience and water security,” the ECC report states.

Cresco’s 18-page Environmental Assessment Form acknowledges that the proposed use may cause a “moderate or large impact” on soil erosion “that may lead to siltation or other degradation of receiving water bodies.”

For its part, Scenic Hudson’s objection stated that, “Marijuana cultivation is water-intensive, and produces wastewater that may include nutrients, salts, biocides and other pollutants.”

According to Scenic Hudson, “Processing may involve chemical compounds and processes that increase fire and sewer risks, produce peak wastewater flows, or alter wastewater composition. To evaluate the proposed activities, the town needs more information.
proposal in terms of wastewater flow and composition, and sewer risks.”

Cresco did not respond to messages on Friday, January 21.

The Cresco plan first was announced at a press conference in August, held on the steps from the former library on Liberty Street. Officials from the county attended but not a representative of the company.

On Friday, Town Supervisor Terry Houck said the project, which would involve the 77-acre Schrade property and possibly the adjoining Channel Master site — neither of which have yet been purchased by Cresco — has been “going in a pretty good direction” through the Planning Board process for several months. John Constable, president of the Planning Board, did not return a message Friday.

Houck stated that the project will likely create between 300 and 400 jobs. Houck said that the jobs would pay an annual average salary of $40,000 and include benefits.

Cresco sent a written statement to the New York State Department of Health in August, indicating that it is excited about adult cannabis use. We also know the economic impact large-scale cannabis facilities can have on a community. We look forward to continuing our work with Ulster County to determine the location in Wawarsing.

Cresco submitted applications for development to the town Planning Board. Cresco claims that it is on a mission normalize, professionalize, and revolutionize cannabis. The company has 18 similar facilities across the country and is regarded as the fastest-growing and most trusted cannabis company in all of the world.

County Executive Pat Ryan stated that the property, which measures 300,000 square feet, spans 70 acres. Cresco is expected to hire local builders and partners in the development of the property.

As of Friday, the Wawarsing Planning Board meeting that was scheduled had not yet been posted to the town website.

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