Businessman Wants To Operate Large-Scale Hemp Greenhouse

A local businessman has asked the Town of Smithfield to approve a request to turn a warehouse into a large indoor hemp greenhouse.

Frank Lee has filed an application requesting a special use permit to operate a hemp greenhouse in a warehouse at 1219 S. Brightleaf Boulevard near the intersection of Holding Street.  The request was on the July agenda of the Smithfield Town Council but at the last minute was postponed until their August meeting.

According to documents, Mr. Lee wants to use an existing 70,739 square foot warehouse for a hemp facility. The facility would include a high-tech indoor cultivation facility for growing, curing and handling hemp for industrial and medical purposes.  46,903 square foot would be used as a growing and cultivation area. There would be 5 cultivation rooms with each holding between 250-400 hemp plants, and a conditioned space with special artificial lighting to produce a more perfect growing environment.

The remainder of the warehouse would be used for curing, labeling, processing, handling and storage.  A 400 square foot office area is proposed inside the warehouse.

According to the application, 3 hemp crops would be grown each year.  The hemp plants grow to a height of 10 to 12 feet and require about 25 square feet of floor area per plant.  The hemp plants would be planted in 15 gallon pots. Each pot would be placed on a wooden pallet to facilitate handing and harvesting. Water would be provided through a drip irrigation system that will discharge directly into the growing pots. The amount of water is so closely monitored, there is no discharge of irrigation water.

According to the application from TIMA, LLC Hemp Facility, the entire process is closely monitored and regulated by the NC Department of Agriculture.  The NCDA is charged with permitting, inspecting, and regulating the growing of hemp for medical and industrial purposes.

The proposed hemp facility would be developed in phases.  The report says the initial growing area will be approximately 10,080 square feet with an associated 5,670 square foot curing area, leaving the remainder for warehousing.

Subsequent phases of development will increase by 36,823 square feet to the requested 46,903 square foot area.

At built-out, the proposed facility will have the capacity to cultivate 1,850 plants per crop or 5,550 plants per year.

In the application, Mr. Lee says a security system will also be installed.

The project was formally filed with the Town of Smithfield on June 4th.  A public hearing on the proposed hemp greenhouse is now scheduled for August 13th.