Parea granted an extension from Northumberland County to purchase land

Northumberland County Commissioners Kym Best, Rich Shoch and Sam Schiccatano.

SUNBURY — The medical marijuana company looking to purchase county land to build a growing facility received a fifth extension to finalize on the real estate transaction.

At a special meeting on Thursday, Northumberland County Commissioners Rick Shoch and Sam Schiccatano approved an extension to MNK 03 Holdings, the holding company of Parea BioSciences, to Dec. 31 in exchange for a non-refundable deposit of $10,000 each week until the land is purchased. Commissioner Kymberley Best voted against the action.

"I have no problem getting $10,000 a week every week until the end of December, or until they're done, because it's non-refundable," said Schiccatano.

There was no discussion during the meeting.

Parea BioSciences, through its holding company MNK 03 Holdings, intends to purchase 10 acres of land owned by Northumberland County near the new prison in Coal Township for $1.5 million. The majority commissioners originally approved the option in May 2018 and the medical marijuana grower/processor was approved for a license in July 2018.

Parea has already provided the county with $131,000 to hold the property, which will go toward the purchase price, Schiccatano said.

This is the fifth extension. The original deal was approved by the commissioners May 2018, and there were four other extensions in November 2018, March, August and October.

The agreement with the county allows for Parea to be on-site making improvements to the land but they assume the risk if the real estate deal falls through. Gaudenzia Inc., a drug addiction rehabilitation center, had a similar agreement to make renovations or improvements as they waited for lease agreements to be negotiated. The agreement with Gaudenzia was for leasing the property, not to purchase it.

Best declined to comment following the meeting, but she has opposed the land purchase since the beginning. Among Best's concerns in previous statements: federal law prohibits growing marijuana in any form on publicly owned land; a marijuana farm is not a suitable neighbor to the county prison, a juvenile rehabilitation center and drug rehabilitation center; discussions have not been held in public; and she believes the road to Parea being declared public is a vehicle for a 2-mill tax increase and additional borrowing — two actions that the county code authorizes when roads are declared public.

Best declined to comment following the meeting, but she has opposed the land purchase since the beginning. Among Best's concerns in previous statements: federal law prohibits growing marijuana in any form on publicly owned land; a marijuana farm is not a suitable neighbor to the county prison, a juvenile rehabilitation center and drug rehabilitation center; discussions have not been held in public; and she believes the road to Parea being declared public is a vehicle for a 2-mill tax increase and additional borrowing — two actions that the county code authorizes when roads are declared public.

Shamokin city officials last month approved a lease agreement with Parea to use its former tax office for an administrative corporate office. The five-year agreement allows for Parea to rent the city-owned building at 51 E. Lincoln St. for office space at $1,000 a month. City officials moved the tax office next door to 47 E. Lincoln St. in January in anticipation of the agreement.

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