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Greensburg gives final approval for medical marijuana dispensary

Jacob Tierney
| Monday, Sept. 11, 2017, 8:33 p.m.
An artist's rendering of Greensburg's proposed medical marijuana dispensary.
An artist's rendering of Greensburg's proposed medical marijuana dispensary.

Greensburg council unanimously approved plans for a medical marijuana dispensary Monday, which means construction is nearly ready to begin.

"We want to start yesterday, so we're champing at the bit," said Thomas Perko, founder of Keystone Integrated Care, which will be building the only dispensary in Westmoreland County.

There is one more piece of red tape. Keystone Integrated Care doesn't own the land where the dispensary will be built along East Pittsburgh Street, but the paperwork has been drawn up and the land will be transferred soon, Perko said.

The East Pittsburgh Street property belonged to the city until earlier this year, when it was transferred to the Westmoreland County Land Bank in anticipation of the dispensary project. The land bank will transfer the land to Keystone for free.

There are two empty homes on the property, which will be demolished.

Greensburg officials championed the project as an economic boon for the city.

"It's awesome. It means a lot for the city of Greensburg, it's going to be great for the city and great for the tax base," said Mayor Robert Bell. "We're putting in a facility that's going to be at the forefront of a new industry."

Bell said some council members were initially hesitant about bringing a medical marijuana facility into the city, but they supported the project as they learned more about the benefits.

City Planning Director Barbara Ciampini has been working closely with Keystone Integrated Care to make the project happen.

"Who would have thought when I started here 32 years ago that someday I'd make marijuana my platform?" Ciampini said. "It's another economic stimulus for the city of Greensburg, and it brings something completely different to the city."

The dispensary will be eligible for the city's 10-year tax-break program, which lets property owners who make major improvements to their land keep 25 percent of the property taxes they would normally pay. Under the program, owners pay 10 percent of their taxes as normal and pay 65 percent into a development fund maintained by the Greensburg Community Development Corp.

The Greensburg dispensary will be Keystone's flagship location. The company plans to build two other dispensaries, in Cranberry and Pittsburgh.

Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6646, or via Twitter @Soolseem.

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