SUNBURY — Parea BioSciences was granted its third extension in the purchasing of 10 acres of land near the Northumberland County Jail for a medical marijuana grow facility during a county commissioner meeting Wednesday.
Parea BioSciences, through its holding company MNK 03 Holdings LLC, now has until Sept. 30 to finalize the $1.5 million purchase. The company paid the county an additional $10,000 deposit on the extension.
The extension was approved in a 2-1 vote, with Commissioner Kymberley Best voting against it.
Best released a statement Wednesday explaining her decision, stating she has “continually opposed the scheme of the majority commissioners to put a marijuana-growing facility on the Northumberland County South Campus” because federal law prohibits growing of marijuana on publicly owned land and because she doesn’t believe a grow facility should be located near the county prison, a juvenile facility and a drug rehabilitation center.
Additionally, Best said private discussions were held regarding the opening of a public road, which she believes can lead to a 2-mill tax increase.
Under the new extension, Best said the company will be permitted to occupy the premises prior to closing, but said she doesn’t have confidence they will have the money by Sept. 30 due to a “history of inability to pay.”
Best claims the extension would allow Parea, through MNK 03 Holdings LLC, to remain in possession of the property by paying $500 a day, or $15,000 a month, creating a “de facto lease” that will keep the property off of the tax rolls, causing the county, Coal Township and the Shamokin Area School District to lose out on real estate tax revenue.
Commissioner Chairman Rick Shoch said Best’s press release contains “numerous lies where she is now misstating actual facts.”
The $500 per day would be an imposed penalty on the company should it occupy the land after Sept. 30 without closing on the property, he said. The penalty would be imposed daily until the county receives an authorized court order of ejectment.
Commissioner Sam Schiccatano also addressed Best’s statement to the media, stating there will be no 2-mill tax increase for the public use of the road leading to the prison.
The commissioners were told by Parea BioSciences that it is not out of the ordinary for grow companies to receive extensions on the sale of land due to numerous reasons.
He said Best’s concerns in her statement were not provided to the majority commissioners, making it difficult for them to follow up with Parea.
The majority commissioners said the reason for the newest extension is related to holdups on zoning issues, some of which were the result of a lawsuit filed by Best in September, alleging a petition to declare a road to the prison public was done in violation of the Sunshine Act. Best dropped the lawsuit at the October meeting when a motion was made to file the petition.
Shoch said a $10,000 check is given to the county every time an extension is given that the company will forfeit if the property falls through.
Schiccatano said he hopes when the sale goes through, the county is able to use a portion of the money to finance the purchasing of new voting machines required by the state. He said he is looking into whether that is a possibility to save expense to the taxpayers.