Pot plant plant plan pops up in Roe Jan

Hudson is one site for marijuana factory but old school is also prospect

COPAKE—A medical marijuana producing operation has high hopes of getting growing in Columbia County.

Good Green Group, a Yorktown-based LLC, has two potential locations in mind: the former L and B Products furniture manufacturing facility at 99 South Third Street, Hudson or the former Roeliff Jansen Central School building on Route 22, Copake, just south of the Roeliff Jansen Community Library.

Stephen Steeneck, 47, is the chief operating officer of the company owned by his sister, Kristen Steeneck, 41.

Mr. Steeneck and the Good Green Group’s attorney, Dan Tuczinski of the Albany law firm of Tuczinski, Cavalier & Gilchrist, PC, appeared before the Hudson Common Council at its June 1 meeting and came away with a unanimously-approved resolution supporting the company’s application to the state to become a licensed medical marijuana producer and dispenser, using the L and B site for production.

But Mr. Steeneck, who describes himself as “a finance person,” told The Columbia Paper by phone Tuesday, that Good Green Group has also looked at the old Roeliff Jansen School as a potential site for its operation and has submitted an application listing both sites, leaving it up to state Department of Health (DOH) officials to say where they would prefer to have the operation located.

Roe Jan, as it is known locally, was built in the 1930s and has stood vacant for about 15 years, since the new Taconic Hills Central School District campus was opened in 1999. The Roe Jan School offers more than 93,000 square feet, according to Mr. Steeneck.

Five medical marijuana production facilities will be licensed by the state under the Compassionate Care Act established in July 2014. Under the law the state DOH will implement a “comprehensive, safe and effective medical marijuana program that meets the needs of New Yorkers. The program will ensure that medical marijuana is available for certified patients with serious conditions and is dispensed and administered in a manner that protects public health and safety.”

Common Council President Don Moore said by phone this week that each of the five licensed manufacturing facilities will supply four dispensaries in other locations. He said the state has received 300 applications for these 5 spots and the deadline for the submission of the 700-page application is Friday, June 5.

Mr. Moore said with the deadline looming, the appeal for the council resolution was “hurried” but that the state wants to determine whether the local governing agency would support the establishment of such a facility.

Mr. Moore said that L and B is a 300,000 square-foot open plant and the Good Green Group is looking to utilize about 40,000 square feet for its growing operation.

If the green group is selected by the state to become a licensed facility, it will start out with a minimum of 70 jobs and ultimately employ as many as 120, though not all would be in Hudson. Some would be associated with the four dispensaries the plant would supply.

Mr. Moore said the facility would be a substantial addition to the available employment in the city. He said he is “enthusiastic about having the facility here” and could find “no downside” given the guarantees of security and monitoring by the state. “This is not like a group just growing cannabis in the backyard,” said Mr. Moore, who noted the central location of the city to points north and south via the Thruway.

Asked for his take on the possibility of a medical marijuana facility coming to Roe Jan, Copake Supervisor Jeff Nayer said, “I have no problem with any legitimate business or legal entity being able to reuse that building. People need to hear the word medical.”

Noting that the facility’s growing operation would be done indoors under strict security, and the facility would create 50 to 75 jobs, Mr. Nayer said the operation would be “a good economic boost for the local area and the whole county, but,” he added “it’s all speculative at this point.”

If the Good Green Group’s application is approved, the group would enter into a lease agreement with the owners of the approved facility, said Mr. Steeneck and would be in business “immediately” by January 1, 2016.

As far as the growing operation, all that needs to be in place are the “extreme security protocols… lighting and air conditioning,” he said. While the marijuana is growing, which would be supervised by a “master grower from Colorado,” the company will concentrate on other phases of the operation such as “build-outs in dispensaries and getting equipment for the refinement process in place.”

He said what the facility produces will not look like marijuana, but a refined product.

Mr. Steeneck said the operation will require a $10 million preliminary investment.

The Good Green Group was attracted by Columbia County’s diversity, said Mr. Steeneck, its country and city aspects. Also a draw is the county’s need for jobs, which the company is eager to help with. “We look at it like an opportunity, a chance to help revitalize the county,” he said. Describing the Good Green Group as a company that was started to help people, Mr. Steeneck noted that he and his sister are fourth generation New Yorkers looking to “pay it forward.” He said, “We have all had tragedies, and suffering from cancer is inhumane. We want to provide relief, it’s a quality of life issue. It is called the Compassionate Care Act for a reason.”

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