Marijuana facility proposed in Hellam Township
- Conditional use application filed in Hellam Township to build marijuana grower/processor facility.
- Board of supervisors expected to vote on application at Feb. 2 meeting in Hellam Fire Co. hall.
- George Hodges, relative and former business partner of Gov. Wolf, is an investor in company.
A group hopeful to break into the state's emerging medical marijuana business market has filed plans with Hellam Township.
Viridis Medicine LLC is proposing to build a nearly 50,000-square-foot medical cannabis grower/process facility at 6287 Lincoln Highway, according to a conditional-use application filed with the township.
The township's planning commission recommended the company's application be approved, and a vote is expected at the township's board of supervisors meeting next Thursday.
The meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at Hellam Fire Co., 163 E. Market St. Board Chairman Galen Weibley said the meeting was moved from its typical location in the township office because a high turnout is anticipated.
George Hodges, Gov. Tom Wolf's cousin by marriage and a former part-owner of Wolf Organization Inc., is listed as a manager of Viridis on its application to the township.
Reached by phone Thursday, Hodges said he is just an investor in the project and has no plans to be involved in any operations.
Hodges added that he has not spoken with Wolf about the business. He also pointed out that state regulations allow that his distant relationship with the governor wouldn't impact the company's prospects.
Daniel Kearns, a consultant with the company, said Viridis has eight founding members and also plans to apply for a dispensary permit, but he declined to say if that would also be in the county.
Even if the township approves the company's plans, Viridis faces heavy competition for limited available state permits.
Applications available for medical marijuana businesses
Permit allocations: The state Department of Health announced in December that it would grant up to two grower/processor permits in each of six regions throughout the state and up to 27 dispensary permits.
York County is located in a 13-county region, which will be allocated up to four dispensary permits, one of which has been earmarked for York County.
Grower/processor applications must include a $10,000 nonrefundable application fee and a $200,000 permit fee, which will be returned if the applicant isn't awarded a permit.
Department officials have stated that they are anticipating about 900 applications, which must be submitted between Feb. 20 and March 20.
Hodges and Kearns cited this competitive nature in their decision to decline speaking at length with the media about the business. Each said they would be happy to talk more about their plans in a few months.
Virdis' plans: According to documents filed with the township, Viridis plans on having about 15 employees working at the enclosed facility, which would include motion detectors, security guards on site 24-7 and about 300 security cameras.
Company officials told the township that the proposed building would cost about $6 million, according to a draft of last month's planning commission meeting minutes.
Viridis also told the planning commission that it planned to implement a 2.5 percent self-imposed tax on its gross revenue to invest in the community, according to the drafted minutes.
"We want to make sure from day one we're supporting the community," Kearns said, pointing out that a 5 percent wholesale tax imposed by the state also is supposed to filter back to municipalities.
Viridis isn't the first group to approach a York County municipality regarding plans to seek a grower/processor permit.
A York Township couple had been seeking a permit for their property in Windsor Township, but township officials denied their request because the property was in a commercial zone instead of an industrial zone.
Ed Paskey, an attorney representing the couple, has said the couple is seeking alternative locations but declined to provide specifics.
— Reach David Weissman at email@example.com or on Twitter at @DispatchDavid. Like his cannabis business blog on Facebook at The CannaBiz Kid.