OLD SAYBROOK – Commercial marijuana growing is now a possibility in Old Saybrook after the Zoning Commission approved regulations opening the door to “micro-cultivation” facilities in one of its business districts.
A company going by 5 Custom, LLC, registered to Jacqueline Appleby, applied for the change, which will clear a path for the company to seek the commission’s approval for a growing facility at 5 Custom Drive – a 4,438 square foot warehouse next to the Department of Motor Vehicles on the western end of Old Saybrook.
Matthew Rosenthal, an attorney representing 5 Custom, LLC, told CT Examiner that the company is looking at the possibility of dividing the lot to have both micro-cultivation and a retail marijuana store – which would likely require a new building given state restrictions on selling marijuana from cultivators.
The company does not yet have permits for either a micro-cultivation or retail sales. Rosenthal said he was not sure when his client planned to move forward with applying for zoning approval for either, but said they would likely wait until those permits are lined up.
The company, 5 Custom, LLC, would still have to apply for a special exception permit to have its facility approved by the town for growing, which would require a public hearing. It would also still need to receive a state permit.
The state has not announced when it will be opening a second lottery for micro-cultivator permits.
“Micro-cultivation” is any marijuana growing operation between 2,000 and 10,000 sqft, and the new regulations would allow micro-cultivators to apply for a special permit to operate in Old Saybrook’s B-4 zoning district, which encompasses the commercial area on the western end of town along Spencer Plain Road and Boston Post Road west of Schoolhouse Road, and areas along Boston Post Road and Middlesex Turnpike on the eastern end of town.
The regulations require a 1,000 foot buffer between any potential marijuana growing operation and municipal buildings, public parks or recreation areas, day care centers, schools and places of worship – and a 500-foot buffer from residential properties.
The property at 5 Custom Drive is one of two properties in town where Old Saybrook zoning regulations could allow a marijuana retail store. The Zoning Commission allowed the possibility of marijuana retail only at those two locations because they were previously approved for medical marijuana dispensaries that never opened.
Joseph Hammer, another attorney representing 5 Custom, LLC, said growing operations wouldn’t have the same kinds of impacts that raised concerns about the retail store, since sales of marijuana are prohibited at growing facilities.
“Logical concerns that have been expressed in other places could include: How much traffic will be generated? How many customers will be there at peak time? Is there enough on-site parking capacity to satisfy the demand?” Rosenthal said. “By contrast, micro-cultivation, there’s no general public access, there’s absolutely no direct consumer sales, and you’re really looking only at parking and traffic associated with employees who work there. As well as periodic deliveries.”
The commission voted 4-1 on Wednesday to approve the “micro-cultivation” regulations, with Chair Robert Friedmann the lone vote against.