GROTON – Two companies have applied to operate marijuana retail stores in town, and neither will require a public hearing.
Curaleaf is applying to turn its existing medical marijuana dispensary on Gold Star Highway into a “hybrid” retail store. The shop would continue to serve medical marijuana patients and introduce recreational sales to customers over 21.
Botanic JAC, an LLC registered to Waterford developer Jon Hendel, founder of Terramax Development, is proposing to open a marijuana store at the vacant retail space at 721 Long Hill Road.
According to regulations for marijuana businesses that the Planning and Zoning Commission approved in April, a public hearing is only required if the proposed business neighbors a residential property.
Assistant Director of Planning Deb Jones confirmed there will be no hearings for either application, since they don’t neighbors a residential property. She expects the proposals to be brought before the commission for a vote in late June or July.
Botanic JAC is proposing to use 10,953 square feet of the one-story, 14,288-square-foot building across the street from the Groton Shopping Plaza as a marijuana retailer. The existing parking lot has 51 parking spaces, according to the application.
The building, at the signalized intersection of Long Hill Road and Drozdyk Drive, formerly housed a La-Z-Boy showroom and sat vacant after it closed. O’Reilly Auto Parts recently opened in part of the building, and Jones said the Botanic JAC retailer would take up much of the remaining space. It’s unclear what the third retail space would be used for, she said.
Botanic JAC stated in its application that the proposed store is within 1,500 feet of the Catherine Kolnaski Steam Magnet School, an elementary school on Poquonnock Road. But the application claims it meets the zoning requirement of a 1,500-foot buffer between any marijuana retailer and schools because an active railway acts as a “permanent buffer” between the buildings.
Jones confirmed the proposal meets the town’s requirements.
Sales of recreational marijuana in Connecticut eclipsed medical marijuana for the first time in May, with adult-use customers buying $11.5 million worth of products, compared to $11.2 million in medical marijuana sales, according to the state Department of Consumer Protection.
In total, non-medical marijuana customers have bought $43.4 million worth of marijuana products between Jan. 10 and the end of May. And commercial sales increased from just over $7 million in the first full month of sales in February, to $11.5 million in May, according to state data.
Massachusetts-based Curaleaf opened its medical marijuana dispensary on Gold Star Highway in 2020, and is now looking to expand its sales to all adult customers. In its application, it said they would only change signs – and no other parts of the building – if approved.
Curaleaf said it isn’t proposing changes to the existing 21-space parking lot.
Curaleaf also operates hybrid marijuana retailers in both Stamford and Hartford. The company said in its application that it meets the regulations the town Planning and Zoning Commission approved in April, which Curaleaf advocated for, including being more than 1,500 feet away from schools, churches, hospitals and barracks.
Curaleaf stated the closest residential properties are “just over 400 feet” away from the site.
Curaleaf has a state license for medical marijuana, which can be converted to a hybrid license. Botanic JAC has a provisional license from the state to sell marijuana to adults over 21 years old.
Groton Town Police approved security plans for both proposed retailers.