The owners of a flower warehouse at 80 Eastern Ave. will soon be selling a different kind of plant.
Tuesday night, the Planning Board unanimously approved the site plan for a retail marijuana sales and cultivation facility for Jolo Can, LLC, doing business as Harbor House Collective. The board also recommended approval for a special permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) for parking relief at the site.
The Harbor House proposal calls for 46 parking spaces, where 50 are required by zoning regulations. However, Harbor House representatives said they will be subsidizing public transportation for employees, and are working on arrangements with abutters for additional parking, if it is necessary.
The special permit hearing will be held before the ZBA next month.
The owners of Designers Choice wholesale flower distributors, the Londono family, will continue to operate their current business at a different location while converting the 80 Eastern Ave. warehouse to a 20,000-square-foot marijuana cultivation, manufacturing, and retail facility.
The retail sales store open to the public will be about 1,500 square feet, according to the attorney representing Harbor House. About 20,000 square feet will be used for cultivation and manufacturing, with the cultivated product being used for the on-site retail store.
Gabriel Londono, one of the principals and founders of the project, noted that the Harbor House proposal is for a family-owned business that will bring jobs to Chelsea. The facility will hire about 50 full-time employees, with a goal of having at least half of those employees being Chelsea residents.
Michael Farnham, another one of the project principals, said there will be extensive odor control in the warehouse where the marijuana plants will be cultivated.
“All the cultivation will be done indoors in a warehouse setting with artificial lights and HVAC controls,” said Farnham. “It will mimic outdoor conditions, but be under our complete control.”
All the air going in and out of the cultivation rooms will be scrubbed and filtered, with several types of air filtration systems, he added.
As for the facility itself, project architect Adam Rebello said the outside of the building will be painted and a wooden facade added to brighten up the look of the facility.
There will also be landscaping added and several existing curb cuts on the property will be filled in to help with traffic control.
One of the signs of the changing times when it comes to legalized marijuana is that there were very few questions from the public or the board about the use of the proposal.
But, as with almost any development in Chelsea, from the conversion of a two-family to a three-family home to the largest apartment complexes, there were questions raised about traffic and parking.
The traffic consultant for Harbor House, Erin Fredette, said the facility would generate an additional 50 trips during the peak afternoon hour during weekdays, and 75 on weekends.
“Overall, it’s not a very high (traffic) generator, and the impact is minimal,” said Fredette.
In addition, she said, there will be a decrease in large truck traffic with the change of use of the facility.
Currently, there are as many as 50 truck trips per day at the site. Because there will be no need for marijuana deliveries at Harbor House, since the plants for sale will be cultivated on site, there will only be one or two deliveries per week to 80 Eastern Ave.