Sunday, July 03, 2022

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Bluepoint Apothecary One Step Closer to Becoming Branford's First Hybrid Cannabis Retailer

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At the request of applicant Bluepoint Apothecary LCC, Branford's Planning and Zoning Commission (PZC) has unanimously approved amending zoning regulations and lifting a moratorium to allow a hybrid retailer cannabis establishment in town. Next, at its July 7 meeting, the PZC is expected to vote to approve a special exception application made by Bluepoint for a hybrid retail cannabis establishment operating at its present medical marijuana apothecary location, 471 East Main St. 

Pam Johnson/The Sound

At the request of applicant Bluepoint Apothecary LCC, Branford's Planning and Zoning Commission (PZC) has unanimously approved amending zoning regulations and lifting a moratorium to allow a hybrid retailer cannabis establishment in town. Next, at its July 7 meeting, the PZC is expected to vote to approve a special exception application made by Bluepoint for a hybrid retail cannabis establishment operating at its present medical marijuana apothecary location, 471 East Main St. (Photo by Pam Johnson/The Sound)

At the request of applicant Bluepoint Apothecary LCC, Branford's Planning and Zoning Commission (PZC) has unanimously approved amending zoning regulations and lifting a moratorium to allow a hybrid retailer cannabis establishment in town. The June 16 PZC vote ends a 12-month moratorium which went into effect December 24, 2021 and now will sunset as of July 12, 2022.

Next, at its July 7 meeting, the PZC is expected to vote to approve a special exception application made by Bluepoint for a hybrid retail cannabis establishment operating at its present medical marijuana apothecary location, 471 East Main St.  A PZC straw vote on June 16 indicated there will also be unanimous commission support in favor of approving the special exception application when the official PZC vote is made on July 7.  Approval of the special exception application would give Bluepoint the final green light needed from the Town to include recreational cannabis sales at its current site.

Attorney Timothy M. Herbst (Marino, Zabel & Schellenberg, PLLC, Orange) made the application for the text amendment on behalf of Bluepoint. Bluepoint is now in its fourth year operating as a dispensary of medical marijuana and intends to continue those apothocary activities in conjunction with the addition of recreational cannabis sales.

Distance requirements for storage facilities which have been written into the text amendment will effectively make Bluepoint the only hybrid retail cannabis establishment which can operate in Branford.  The PZC also set operating hours of 9 a.m. - 8 p.m. Monday – Saturday and 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. on Sunday as language in the newly-amended text regulation.

Commission members voting on June 16 were chairman Charles "Chuck" Andres, secretary/commissioner Marci Palluzzi and commissioners Joe Viauso, Joe Chadwick and Fred Russo. The PZC engaged in considerable discussion and close questioning of the applicant during the review process and also took into consideration state statutes which additionally regulate recreational sales.

Both the text amendment application and the special exception application were brought before the PZC together. PZC public hearings on the applications opened June 2 and concluded during the June 16 PZC meeting, which was held via Zoom.  No members of the public came forward to speak on the applications during the two-part public hearing.

On June 16, following the PZC's unanimous vote to approve the text amendment, Andres directed Town Planner Harry Smith to prepare a motion to approve the special exception application; with the document set to come before the PZC on July 7.  Smith was instructed to add in several conditions developed as a result of the PZC's review and discussion. Changes to landscaping, lighting and hours of operation are among the conditions which will be added.

Bluepoint had sought to have the hybrid retail establishment's hours of operation run from 9 a.m. - 9 p.m. Monday- Saturday and from 10 a.m.- 8 p.m. Sundays. Discussion with the PZC indicated the applicant anticipates demand at the business may double once it becomes a hybrid retail outlet. The extended hours sought would, in part, allow for anticipated extended transaction times, at least initially, as consumers new to cannabis may have more questions of the staff, creating a longer transaction time until they become more educated about the products they are considering.

While the number of consumers is anticipated to increase, the applicant doesn't anticipate extreme numbers of consumers coming to make purchases in Branford once the hybrid establishment is operational.

Bluepoint's special exception applicant. attorney Anne Marie Zsamba of Green Thumb Industries (NY), noted for the PZC on June 16 that Connecticut is unique in that it's bordered by Massachusetts, which has been a recreational cannabis sales state for four years.

"We don't anticipate a pent-up demand like other states have seen," said Zsamba.

A traffic study provided by the applicant was reviewed by the Town Engineer. Bluepoint has an arrangement to temporarily lease an additional 20 parking spaces at neighboring businesses, where staff will park to allow for more customer vehicles to have parking at the retail site.


Pam Johnson covers news for Branford and North Branford for Zip06. Email Pam at p.johnson@shorepublishing.com.

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