Shelton may impose moratorium on pot stores

Exterior of Shelton City Hall, in Shelton, Conn. Jan. 11, 2021.

Exterior of Shelton City Hall, in Shelton, Conn. Jan. 11, 2021.

Ned Gerard / Hearst Connecticut Media

SHELTON - The Planning and Zoning Commission is looking to prevent any recreational-use cannabis businesses from opening in the city as it explores whether to allow such operations in the future.

The commission, at its meeting Tuesday, set a public hearing for March 29, via Zoom, to determine if a moratorium should be established to prohibit applications seeking to open recreational marijuana production, growing, sales or distribution facility in any zoning district in the city.

“We need to move as fast as we can,” commission consultant Anthony Panico said about the need for the temporary moratorium. “The commission needs the time to consider whether this use should be a permitted use or not.”

The commission is considering this temporary moratorium until Shelton can create new zoning regulations to address this issue. The public hearing is necessary before approval of such a moratorium because this action is an amendment to the present regulations.

Commission Chair Virginia Harger said the public hearing is “not to debate whether or not recreational cannabis should be produced, grown, sold or distribution in any zoning district within the city. It’s just to determine if a moratorium should be put in place.”

If approved, Harger said the moratorium would allow time for the commission’s zoning subcommittee to research what regulations are permitted under the state statute allowing such establishments, which went into effect on July 1, 2021.

“The subcommittee would come back to the entire commission with a recommendation which the entire commission could accept in its entirety or modify,” Harger said.

Last year, the state legislature legalized marijuana in Connecticut. Beginning July 1, it became legal for adults older than 21 to have an ounce-and-a-half of marijuana, plus another five ounces in a locked container.

Retail sales in Connecticut are expected to begin as soon as this spring, under legislation approved by the state Senate last year.

“What (the commission) would be doing is no different than what numerous municipalities have done since June 2021 when Gov. Lamont signed Senate Bill 1201 into law,” Harger added.