P&Z rejects medical marijuana dispensary sites

The Fairfield Town Plan and Zoning Commission unanimously denied applications for two proposed medical marijuana dispensaries Tuesday.

The application by CT Wellness Centers for a dispensary at 222 Post Road was denied on grounds that it did not constitute permitted use, as well as on issues of traffic and safety.

Commissioner James Kennelly said the state left too much of the implementation of the law allowing medical use of marijuana to local zoning boards.

Saying the proposal was not a permitted use for Fairfield as zoning regulations presently exist, Kennelly also noted that the new law does not prohibit existing pharmacies from dispensing medical marijuana, and that the issue may be revisited later.

“Fairfield won’t be one of the first communities to offer this,” Kennelly said. “If we want to see this be allowed in Fairfield down the line, use could be potentially allowing this through a pharmacy, or connected to a
medical office.”

There is also no limit on the number of new patients, Kennelly said, and that the Post Road site could become one of the only marijuana dispensaries in the state if other municipalities reject applications.

Commissioner Gerald Alessi said he could not find any regulations “where this is a permitted use.”

Alessi stressed discrepancies between the patient numbers cited by CT Wellness and the number registered through the Department of Consumer Protection.

“The town and the Post Road in particular cannot handle that amount of traffic,” he said.

Alessi also quoted Fairfield Police Chief Gary MacNamara, who, during the Sept. 24 public hearing on the application, expressed concern that crime in Fairfield might escalate, citing an increase in criminal activity associated with medical marijuana dispensaries in other states.

Alessi expressed concerns for the safety of the nearby neighborhoods, noting that school busses stop across the street six times a day.

“This is not a permitted use,” Commissioner Matthew Wagner said. “It will not harmonize with the neighborhood. The traffic problems are self-evident. There will be problems with property values in the surrounding area.”

A second application, for a dispensary to be located at 400 Post Road, was also denied for the same reasons.

Neighbors of the sites who attended the meeting loudly applauded each vote.

Ann Money Atkins of Shoreham Village Road, one of the neighborhoods closest to the sites, bemoaned the lack of foresight on the part of state leaders when they approved the use of medical marijuana in Connecticut last year.

“This has already created undue burdens for local communities who stand to be most affected by the new law,” she said. “Our Fairfield TPZ should be commended for calling for more reasoned governance in Hartford and for rejecting the proposals until that time.”

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