BERLIN — The city has agreed to enter into a new purchase-and-sale agreement with North Country Growers for the 170-acre site the developer wants for its commercial greenhouse operation. The decision comes three months after the city decided not to renew an earlier option on the site off the East Milan Road.
The Massachusetts-based company has been working since 2017 on its proposal to develop two 10-acre greenhouses that would produce 15 million heads of lettuce and 8 million pounds of tomatoes annually and employ approximately 80 people.
Community Developer Director Pamela Leflamme reported to the city council last Wednesday that earlier that day the Berlin Industrial Development and Park Authority had voted to approve a new purchase and sale agreement with NCG on the same East Milan property. She said BIDPA was now asking the city council to approve the new sale price of $640,000.
Laflamme said NCG has remained interested in the project and came back to BIDPA with an investor they feel confident will allow them to close on the purchase by the Dec. 31 deadline set by BIDPA. She said NCG will make a $35,000 deposit when the purchase and sale agreement is finalized and she said BIDPA is stipulating they must have the agreement completed and signed by all parties by this Friday, Sept. 18. If the sale goes through by Dec. 31, the $35,00 deposit will go against the purchase price.
Councilor Lucie Remillard noted the purchase price was $40,000 lower than the original $680,000. She asked if was because NCG has already paid the city $80,000 NCG in earlier options. Laflamme said it was probably an acknowledgment of that fact.
The council approved the new sale price and authorized City Manager James Wheeler to sign the closing documents.
Earlier this summer, NCG President Richard Rosen said he has rejected investors who did not buy into his philosophy of hiring local people and paying good wages. He also noted there have been a number of delays that have had an effect on the project timeline. He said special state legislation was required to enter into a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement with the city, a boundary line on the property had to be shifted, and then COVID-19 hit.