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Hemp to sprout in Smithfield

Town council approves greenhouse permit

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SMITHFIELD — Town leaders have given the green light to Smithfield’s first hemp greenhouse.

The Smithfield Town Council on Aug. 13 granted Frank Lee’s application for a special-use permit to operate a hemp greenhouse in a warehouse located at 1219 S. Brightleaf Blvd. across from the Civitan Field.

Attorney Chip Hewett represented Lee during the council’s quasi-judicial public hearing. Josh Mayes, a hemp production expert, provided expert testimony on Lee’s behalf.

The 3-acre site is surrounded by a single-family home to the north, warehouses to the south and west and the Civitan Field and a laundromat to the east.

The building will be 70,739 square feet and will feature an office and restrooms along with space for hemp cultivation, processing, handling and storage. The 46,903 square-foot cultivation room will hold 250-400 hemp plants in a conditioned space that’s lighted and climate-controlled.

Hemp growing is regulated by the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which issues permits and inspects approved growers. Lee has a three-year permit that expires in April 2022.

The site plans call for cut-off wallpack lighting and a security system.

Smithfield Planning Director Stephen Wensman said there should be minimal danger to the public’s health, safety and general welfare. The special use will be in harmony with the existing development and uses within the area in which it’s to be located. The planning department recommended approval.

No one objected to he hemp greenhouse during the hearing and council members voted unanimously to grant the permit.