By Alyssa Schnugg
The Lafayette County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday told a representative of Good Day Farm, a medical cannabis growing facility, that eliminating the smell coming from their plant must be a No. 1 priority after dozens of nearby residents complained about the aroma wafting into their neighborhoods.
Building Official Joel Hollowell told the Board that on Nov. 18 his office received an email from a resident in the Oxmoor Subdivision claiming that they could often smell the cannabis at their home.
“This would correspond with the time that their first crop was reaching maturity and being harvested,” Hollowell said.
By the end of the day on the 18th, Hollowell said another seven people emailed to complain about the odor. Since then, Hollowell said he has received 18 emails and several phone calls from residents in Oxmoor, Brairwood, Whitetail, Northpointe and other neighborhoods close to the Lafayette County Industrial Park where Good Day Farm is located.
However, Hollowell was quick to point out that no one complained about the business or the medical cannabis program.
“At no point has anyone expressed any kind of negativity toward the actual cannabis industry,” he said. “In fact, quite a few have expressed their support of medical cannabis. This actually is a situation where these individuals are not having the opportunity to enjoy their property and their homes. They say they can’t go outside at certain times because the odor is so strong and some have said the smell is infiltrating their homes as well.”
Hollowell said he went to the neighborhoods himself and also detected the smell of cannabis while there.
He said on Nov. 22, he contacted Zach Wilson, the vice president of operations to discuss what was going on at the cultivating facility that was causing the smell of cannabis drifting so far from the facility and Wilson said he would look into the issue.
On Nov. 29, Hollowell said that Wilson told him that the ERV systems, or environmental recovery ventilation systems, had zero filtration as far as something that would stop the cannabis odor. They had filters in them but those filters were not designed to stop the cannabis odor and they need to be carbon filters.
“(Wilson) said that he would get the correct filters ordered and he felt certain that this would help with the odor elimination,” Hollowell said.
Wilson did not attend Tuesday’s meeting.
In December, Hollowell met with Wilson and representatives from a company that specializes in eliminating odors in a variety of industries. The company said Good Day Farm would need 60 filtration systems, or air scrubbers since the building is more than 140,000 square feet. Each unit costs $20,000. Good Day Farm decided to order 10 units and see how they worked and purchase more in phases as needed.
Hollowell said the complaints continued and in February, he went to Good Day Farm and found that three air scrubbers were installed, but that there was no electricity running to them and that the other seven had not yet been installed.
Nate Steel, chief compliance and state governmental affairs officer with Good Day Farm said he wasn’t aware that the air scrubbers had not been hooked up to electricity until Tuesday morning.
Steel told the Board that the facility has contracted with a firm from St. Louis to begin odor detection studies.
“Since we’re going to have several different components of this mitigation effort, our operations team thought it would only make sense to be able to detect what is working and how well it’s working as we go forward,” Steel told the Supervisors. “Otherwise you might do air scrubbers now, we might add some chemical filters later. We’re not really sure what’s working and when it was working and how it was working.”
Steel said they are working as quickly as they can to eliminate the odor but did apologize that the air scrubbers were not running by now.
“We should have had that done and there is no question about that and our operations team will hear about that,” he said. “But we’re gonna do whatever it takes to mitigate the odor. It may not ever get to zero. But we will do anything it takes to do that.”
The Board asked Steel to get back to them as soon as possible with an actual timeline as to when the air scrubbers will be installed and any other systems or filters to be used to mitigate the odor coming from the facility.
Steel said he would have a timeline for the Board by the end of the day on Wednesday.
No action was taken by the Board on Tuesday.