CT: Medical Marijuana Dispensary Approvals Sought From Planning And Zoning Commission

Photo Credit: Infinite Wellness

A Commerce Road property owner has applied to the Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) for two local approvals that would be necessary for a medical marijuana dispensary to operate there — new zoning regulations that specifically allow such a use, and a special zoning permit for such a facility.

Besides such local approvals, a dispensary would also require approval from the state Department of Consumer Protection (DCP), the agency that administers the state’s medical marijuana program. The DCP is reviewing about 70 applications it recently received for new dispensaries. The DCP is expected to approve somewhere between three and ten new dispensaries to augment existing dispensaries. One of those DCP applications proposes an existing building at 18 Commerce Road as the site of a new dispensary.

The 10,240-square-foot building there, which is owned by 18 Commerce Road, LLC, was built in 1978. It is located in a M-5 (Industrial) zone. The front half of that building is vacant and would house the proposed dispensary. An organization known as Health Vitality Center of Connecticut would likely operate the dispensary, according to the P&Z application.

The P&Z has scheduled two public hearings for 7:30 pm on Thursday, June 7, at Newtown Municipal Center, 3 Primrose Street, to consider the two applications from 18 Commerce Road, LLC. The owners of 17 properties lying within 500 feet of the site would be formally notified by mail of the June 7 P&Z session.

According to the zoning regulations that the firm proposes: a dispensary would need to be located within an M-5 zone, be connected to the municipal sewer system, and have a public water supply. The proposed rules also list parking requirements. Also, as a condition of a special zoning permit, a dispensary would need to comply with state law covering the “Palliative Use of Marijuana.”

Attorney Robert Hall, who represents the applicant, in a May 8 statement to the P&Z explained why the P&Z should approve the two applications concerning a dispensary.

The proposed location is near the end of a dead-end street in an industrial area. It has public sewer service and a public water supply and is as appropriate a location as could be found in town, he wrote. Also, the site is near Exit 10 of Interstate 84, he adds.

The state regulations that cover medical marijuana dispensaries are highly detailed, according to Mr Hall. Only people diagnosed with a “debilitating medical condition” and deemed to be “qualifying patients” are allowed to receive medical marijuana, he added. Such people must be state residents.

The state lists 21 debilitating conditions that allow marijuana to be prescribed for a patient. They include cancer, glaucoma, AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, certain spinal cord damage, epilepsy, Crohn’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, sickle cell disease, severe psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and ulcerative colitis.

Mr Hall explains that his initial application for a zoning permit for a dispensary was denied by Town Planning Director George Benson. An ensuing Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) application, which sought to overturn that decision, failed.

Mr Hall stated that he plans to present documentation to the P&Z at the hearings in support of the beneficial aspects of medical marijuana.

Mr Hall said he hopes the P&Z takes action on the two applications on June 7, noting its nearness to a DCP deadline for pending dispensary applications receiving municipal zoning approvals.

In May 2012, the state legislature approved a law allowing medical marijuana to be dispensed. In September 2013, that law took effect.

In this area, a medical marijuana dispensary does business on Garella Road in Bethel.