Opposition to location of medical marijuana dispensary continues
WESTPORT — With five applications for medical marijuana dispensaries in the mix, the debate over where, if at all, to put a medical marijuana dispensary in town has heightened.
At the Planning and Zoning Commission’s public hearing on April 19, most residents in attendance voiced their opposition to a dispensary at 1505 Post Road East. With the public hearing period for that application now closed, the P&Z will decide whether to approve or deny it.
The other four applications for medical marijuana dispensaries — at 345 Post Road West, and 833, 1803, 1835 and 1460 Post Road East — are still in the public hearing stage.
Per P&Z zoning regulations passed over the summer, two medical marijuana dispensaries can operate in nonresidential districts and at least 1,000 feet from any school, place of worship, public park, public building or public recreation area. Central to the debate about the 1505 application is whether the property obliges with the regulation for medical marijuana dispensaries to be at least 1,000 feet away from a school.
Eric D. Bernheim, the attorney for Acreage Connecticut LLC/Todd Corp., the applicant for 1505, argued Kidville Westport, which lies within 1,000 feet of 1505, is not a school because it does not have the permits to classify it as a school. Berheim called upon the plain language rule, which he said requires the P&Z to interpret the definition of school literally.
However, several members of the P&Z and many town residents argued the commission has the discretion to look at the spirit of the regulations, and, by interpreting the spirit of the law, must see Kidville as a school, thus denying the 1505 application.
“It’s hard to believe we’re having this conversation as to what the definition of a school or nursery school is, because Kidville is populated with hundreds of kids less than a thousand feet from 1505,” Caitlin Burke, who lives near 1505, said. She asked the P&Z to consider the spirit of the regulations and classify Kidville a school.
Other neighbors of 1505 said they oppose the application because a medical marijuana dispensary, specifically the drop-off of medical marijuana and potential presence of guards at the property, will cause security concerns that may run into the abutting residential neighborhood.
“We all came to this town, and I came a year ago, for safety, security, being around good people, and getting the highest level of education. I can’t stay here in this town, and I won’t stay here, if that goes up. I’ll put my house up for sale. I’m not going to sit here and have my 2-year old children in a situation where they’re potentially around armed guards and deliveries of cash or deliveries of drugs at any time,” said Brian Wornow, a resident who lives near 1505.
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