Board hears medical marijuana growing facility proposal again
By Richard Gaw
To those who attended the first conditional use hearing before the New Garden Township Board of Supervisors on Sept. 17, the further testimony of Nick DeSanctis before the board on Oct. 15 served to again hammer home that his proposal – to have his company 380 Starr Road, LLP operate an indoor medical marijuana cultivation and manufacturing facility at 380 Starr Road in Landenberg – would bring more than 150 white-collar jobs to the township and establish it as a keystone in a surging worldwide industry.
DeSanctis, a principal with Vedic Holdings, a Bryn Mawr-based commercial real estate company, told the board that the proposal is to divide the 107,000-square-foot facility into two floors, and develop it in two phases. Phase I would use the 53,000-square-foot first floor for growing and manufacturing medical marijuana, which DeSanctis said is an adequate space to retro-fit the proposed business.
“Most other growers who get into this business start very small, and they do 25,000- to 50,000-square feet, and this is twice the size, and it would allow for growth without having to expand the building,” he said.
Phase II of the proposed business, he said, would take place on the building's second floor and would be occupied by an incubator of companies and agencies who would assist the company with marketing, sales, research and development. The second floor would also allow for the cultivation of joint ventures between the facility and several medical universities in the state, and other researchers from around the country and the world.
“Those are the folks that we would like to attract,” DeSanctis said. “It allows us to tell them, 'We have this tremendous building that has all the bells and whistles you're looking for – power, HVAC, parking, accessibility to highways, accessibility to those in highly-skilled jobs, and at the same time, we'll also have the credibility of bringing in the universities and these larger pharmaceutical companies that want to partner with you.'”
DeSanctis said that the business would operate as a joint venture between DeSanctis and David Tuttleman, a Wilmington resident and the owner of Matrix Nev., a Nevada-based medical marijuana-growing company.
The board fixed the majority of their questions during the second hearing on the safety of the building. It's a highly secured and self-contained facility, DeSanctis said, that features security cameras, fully-armed guards, and is accessible by key cards. In addition, he said that aromas from the largely organic chemicals made in the processing of medical marijuana, as well as any potential water run off, would not reach the public, and that all waste products from the plants would go through an underground filtration system.
There was also discussion about the proximity of the proposed business to bordering properties, which include the St. Rocco Catholic Church, an automotive business, a dentist office and a children's therapy center.
In his closing remarks, DeSanctis, who has also made a presentation to the township's Planning Commission, said he is confident that he an continue to bring new jobs to the township, similar to what he did in 2008 when, during a recession, he purchased the location and helped to recruit W.L. Gore, and 450 jobs to the township.
“I do believe that this building could be something really great again, and long-term, with a tenant who wants to be there,” said DeSanctis, who told the board that he did not want the $20 million investment W.L. Gore made in the building to “go to waste. I looked very hard at what industries were out there, and one of the largest and fastest-growing industries is this business.
“This is about creating a new industry and a new environment,” DeSanctis added. “To me, this as a great opportunity not only for me, but for the folks in New Garden, to create jobs.”
While 380 Starr Road, LLP looks to obtain a license from the state in order to open the doors to the facility, it will also have to wait for approval from the township's board of supervisors, who have 45 days to render their decision on the conditional use application.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email firstname.lastname@example.org.