Cannabis retail proposal rejected at Old Saybrook

OLD SAYBROOK

After months of deliberations and public hearings, the Old Saybrook Zoning Commission (ZC) has voted to deny an application to open a retail marijuana store on Boston Post Road.

The 3-2 vote took place at the Commission meeting on October 17. Earlier this year, Fine Fettle Dispensary filed a special exception request to open a cannabis dispensary at 233 Boston Post Road. The application did not foresee any modifications to the exterior of the current building, while renovations would be required inside. ZC deliberated on the request for three months, inviting the public to weigh in at hearings in August, September and October. The public hearings ended on October 3, giving way to the decision on October 17.

In 2021, Connecticut lawmakers passed a bill legalizing recreational marijuana use by adults in the state. The bill left local municipalities to control its sale in each municipality. Earlier this year, the ZC passed new regulations that effectively banned retail marijuana stores everywhere except District B-4, and limited it to locations that had received city approval before. January 2022. Only two locations in Old Saybrook had received such approval, one being the location at 233 Boston Post Road.

At its meeting on October 17, the Commission deliberated quickly and a motion to approve the application – with several conditions related to the management of parking as well as the obligation for the company to operate only by appointment online – received two votes from Robert Friedman and Ann Marie Thorsen. However, three members, Marc Delmonico; Geraldine Lewis; and Mark Caldarella; voted against this motion, so it failed.

In denying the petition, the Board cited reasons including inadequate parking for employees and a potential high number of visitors that the Board said would be too much for the driveway and local roads to handle. The Commission also cited an increase in the space that the plaintiffs were proposing. Fine Fettle’s request proposed using the entire building, while a 2018 approval for a medical marijuana dispensary on the site that never materialized only approved use of half the building. .

The public hearings on the request attracted several speakers and letter writers who were both for and against the request. The company’s location near the intersection of Boston Post Road and Springbrook Road was the concern most often cited by those opposing the request.

The location is close to I-95, and it’s been argued that additional cars coming onto the property would add more congestion to an area that speakers say is a source of many near-misses and injuries. accidents. Additionally, with a small parking lot for the company, it was argued that the lack of adequate parking would force more cars into and out of the parking lot and onto the road. Some speakers even said that if they weren’t opposed to a marijuana retail store, they were opposed to one at 233 Bost Post Road due to traffic.

Police Chief Michael Spera noted in a meeting that estimates of the number of customers coming into the business are said to be over 500 a day. Spera said he would always be opposed to opening a business with such an esteemed customer base there, even if it was unrelated to marijuana.

In addition to traffic issues, others opposed to the request have expressed concern that the store will incur additional police costs, contribute to a bad reputation for the city and send the wrong message to young people.

Proponents of the move had argued that there were economic benefits to allowing the sale, that the product was now legal and no more harmful than other substances that were already legal, and that concerns about safety were overblown.

Fine Fettle chief operating officer Ben Zachs did not respond to a request for comment.

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