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02/05/2023 08:13 AM

Cannabis Microcultivation Application Filed in Old Saybrook

The Zoning Commission will open a public hearing on Feb. 22 over a proposed zoning change that, if approved, would allow for cannabis microcultivation at 5 Custom Drive by special exception.

In the spring of 2022, the Old Saybrook Zoning Commission approved new regulations that banned retail marijuana stores everywhere except for the B-4 district and restricted it to locations that received approval from the town before January 2022. Only two locations received such approval.

One approved location was 5 Custom Drive, next to the Department of Motor Vehicles. Now, an application from 5 Custom LLC is asking the Zoning Commission to change the regulations that would allow for a micro-cultivator to be permitted in the B-4 district by special exception.

5 Custom LLC, is registered to Jacqueline Appleby, according to the state’s business website.

According to the state, “Micro-Cultivators are licensed to engage in the cultivation, growing, and propagation of the cannabis plant at an establishment that is between 2,000 square feet and 10,000 square feet of grow space, prior to any expansion authorized by the Department of Consumer Protection commissioner. Once licensed, the micro-cultivator may expand up to 25,000 square feet or convert to a cultivator if they expand to more than 25,000 square feet of grow space.”

However, that is a currently prohibited use by the zoning regulations.

In a letter to the Zoning Commission, Michael Rosenthal, an attorney for the application, argued that similar uses are already in the zone.

“The manufacture, processing, or assembling of goods is allowed by special exception in the B-4 zone, and many manufacturing and processing facilities are located in that zone. A micro-cultivation use would be similar to and compatible with those existing uses and with the B-4 Zone,” the letter said.

Under the proposed regulations, the applicant is proposing methods of avoiding impacts on the surrounding area.

“As an additional means of avoiding potential impacts, the proposed text amendment includes a substantial buffer of 1000 feet from municipal buildings, public parks, public recreation, or open space area, licensed adult or child day care centers, schools, and places of worship. In addition, a buffer of 500 feet from residentially zoned properties is included,” Rosenthal wrote.

The Zoning Commission will open the public hearing over the proposed regulations change on Wednesday, Feb. 22.

The Commission has spent much of the last year hearing arguments over cannabis use in the town. In 2022, Fine Fettle Dispensary filed a special exception application to open a cannabis dispensary at 233 Boston Post Road, the other approved in-town location, where a cannabis location would be allowed per the regulations.

The application generated serious community input across three different public hearings last fall. Though the Commission eventually denied the application, the applicants behind that application have returned with a new application aimed at addressing the Commission’s reasons for the denial of the application.