THOMASTON — The Thomaston Planning Board approved the first steps for Atticus Hill Farms to build a marijuana cultivation facility at its Tuesday, Nov. 16 meeting.

At least two more Planning Board meetings are required before the farm can begin construction on the project.

Thomaston residents attending the meeting voiced questions and concerns about noise, smell, light pollution and property values.

Andrew Hendrich, a civil engineer with Gartley and Dorsky Engineering and Surveying in Camden, presented the initial plans.

Atticus Hill Farms owners Tracy and Karl Reinhold also spoke about the project.

The planned project is a recreational marijuana cultivation facility inside a closed greenhouse.

Planning Board Chair Joanne Richards told members of the public in attendance the project has to meet the very extensive state and local laws and regulations for all parts of the project.

“We do not approve a site plan until we have all the questions answered,” Richards said.

Thomaston’s ordinance regarding marijuana facilities states retail cultivation facilities may be approved by the Planning Board in any district if the parcel has been enrolled in the Maine Farmland Program for five years or more.

Atticus Hill Farms has been enrolled in this program since the 1980s.

This initial meeting with the Planning Board was to introduce the project to the public and answer questions, Hendrich said. There are still many more steps before the project can begin construction.

Hendrich said the Reinholds will just be growing the plants, and there will not be sale or use of marijuana on the property. The plants will be maintained by a few employees, and produce 100 to 150 pounds of marijuana flower every two or three months.

The Reinholds said their product will be organic, with no pesticides or chemicals used for growing.

While Hendrich said he understood odor and lights were a concern, he reminded the public state and town requirements do not allow nuisance noise, lights or smell.

If the project does not comply to these standards, Hendrich said the state would revoke the necessary licenses to operate the facility.

The greenhouses will be on a closed air system and utilize carbon filters as well to mitigate the smell.

The Reinholds said they will be living near the facility, and they do not want any smell from the project either.

Karl Reinhold said if he could smell marijuana, he would have an issue with that.

As for lights, Hendrich explained the greenhouses would be on a twelve-hour lighting system, most likely from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and would include blackout curtains to prevent light from entering or leaving.

“There will be no Hollywood beacon,” Hendrich promised.

The location for the greenhouse is also 300 feet away from any nearby residential homes, and a landscaping plan will include natural vegetative barriers.

Resident Darene Belyea asked how the Reinholds would protect the marijuana plants from criminals.

The greenhouse would be very secure, and will requite security badges for entrance, the Reinholds said.

Security cameras are also required by the state laws for operating such a facility.

Karl Reinhold said they had also retained the services of a lawyer who specializes in marijuana laws to help them meet all necessary security measures.

The next Planning Board meeting will be Tuesday, Dec. 21 at 6 p.m., when the town will hold a public hearing on the project.

The full video of the meeting can be viewed at https://townhallstreams.com/towns/thomaston_me.