FALLS TOWNSHIP >> In an effort to help a Falls business get up and running and employing local residents sooner, the Falls Township Board of Supervisors unanimously approved an amended final land development plan.
The plan, for MLH Exploration, calls for construction of a 225-square-foot addition to connect two existing buildings at 150 Solar Drive. Situated on a 32-acre parcel of the former USS Steel property, the connection will enable a previously approved medical marijuana growing and processing plant to move forward.
MLH intends to obtain a clinical research license in partnership with Jefferson University Health System to explore what causes the general conditions for people to respond positively via medical marijuana treatment.
Attorney Carrie Nase-Poust said that MLH was in the process of putting together an application for a research license. Once the license is received, the company would have six months to be up and running.
“We do feel fairly confident that we will be granted this research license,” she said.
In the “near future” Nase-Poust said MLH would be back before the board for future expansions, namely a 42,000-square-foot greenhouse.
“We needed to come in for the small addition at this time,” she said. “We do want to invest in the township.”
Initially, MLH’s application was a joint effort with PharmaCann Penn Plant, LLC to develop a medical marijuana facility at the Solar Drive site. However, PharmaCann did not receive a license, according to Nase-Poust.
“I want to see you guys get going,” Supervisor Jeff Boraski said. “Good luck.”
Supervisors Chairman Bob Harvie inquired about the number and frequency of vehicles entering and leaving the property.
David Clapper of MLH said that in addition to employee vehicles, the company would have regular incoming deliveries of fertilizer, soil and growing materials. Since the site would not be a dispensary, it would not have other outside traffic.
Vans would use major highways, such as Route 1 and Tyburn Road to transport medical marijuana to dispensary locations in Center City, Philadelphia, Montgomeryville and Concordville, he said.
Officials said previously that the MLH operation, at full build out, would mean 50 new jobs in Falls Township.
MLH Explorations seeks to construct a state-of-the-art marijuana processing facility within the Keystone Industrial Port Complex to grow, process and study the medicinal benefits of state-licensed medical marijuana.
Medical marijuana would be processed into oils, gel caps and pills as permitted under the state’s Medical Marijuana Act. The site will not be open to the retail public.
Following Falls Township’s local ordinance, which governs medical marijuana grower and dispensary operations, the facility would be secured with a fenced-in area and steel sides up to 12 feet tall. Cameras would be in place and running continuously, according to MLH representatives. Access would be permitted only through electronic devices and access codes would be required.
The US Steel site was viewed as a great location because of its excess space for future expansion, as well as existing power and utilities. Officials said the facilities would increase the green space and thereby reduce the amount of impervious surface, which could help to lessen flooding for neighboring flood-prone areas.
Falls Supervisors have previously set regulations for the production and distribution of medical marijuana and outlined where operations could be located, namely in the highway commercial; materials processing and manufacturing; and farming and mining districts. Operations are not allowed within 1,000 feet of a school, park, daycare center, community center or worship site.
Under the local ordinance, the medical marijuana grower and dispensary are required to “operate entirely within an indoor, enclosed, and secure facility” and provide a security plan specifying the type of 24-hour security, as well as tracking, recordkeeping, record retention and surveillance.
Hours of operation for both growers and dispensers would be limited to 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Exterior sales and sidewalk displays would be forbidden. Drive-through services would not be permitted. Minors would not be permitted inside unless accompanied by a caregiver.