Shelton seeks public input in extending cannabis moratorium

Cannabis plants hang in a drying room at the CTPharma cultivation facility in Rocky Hill, Connecticut, on December 13, 2022.
Cannabis plants hang in a drying room at the CTPharma cultivation facility in Rocky Hill, Connecticut, on December 13, 2022.Arnold Gold/Hearst Connecticut Media

SHELTON — Zoning officials are requesting additional time to determine the future of cannabis sales in the city. 

The Planning and Zoning Commission scheduled a public hearing for March 15 as part of a process to extend the moratorium on the acceptance of applications and the use of land or buildings for adult-use cannabis businesses

The original moratorium began in April 2022 and was set to expire at the end of March.

The moratorium extension would be for one year, or until the commission adopts amendments to the existing zoning to regulate cannabis establishments, whichever occurs first. 

A commission subcommittee recently began meeting on the issue but decided to gauge the full commission’s stance on cannabis sales in the city before moving forward on creating regulations. Most commissioners were either noncommittal or in favor of regulations during Wednesday's meeting, so a vote was taken to start the process to extend the moratorium. The only commissioner who opposed future sales was Chair Virginia Harger, but she did support extending the moratorium. 

“I don’t think this is a good use for retail and commercial space in town,” Harger said. 

The commissioners added they wanted more public input as well before crafting any regulations. 

Harger said the new law defines a cannabis establishment as a producer, dispensary facility, cultivator, micro-cultivator, retailer, hybrid retailer, food and beverage manufacturer, product manufacturer, product packager and delivery service or transporter. 

In 2021, the state legislature legalized marijuana in Connecticut. Beginning July 1, 2021, it became legal for adults 21 and older to have an ounce-and-a-half of marijuana, plus another five ounces in a locked container. 

Section 148 of the new law permits a municipality, through its zoning regulations, to prohibit or establish reasonable restrictions on cannabis establishments. 

If the municipality opts to amend its regulations to address this use, then cannabis establishments would be considered a permitted use in those zoning districts where similar retail and commercial establishments are already permitted, Harger said.

Planning and Zoning Administrator Alex Rossetti said Milford, Stratford and Ansonia have approved regulations, while Trumbull’s moratorium remains in place and Newtown has rejected any such sales in its town. 

Rossetti said the regulations in place in the three communities mirror that of alcohol sales, with rules calling for no such sales within 300 feet of schools, parishes and recreational zones. He added the regulations are developed to limit the number of such establishments, with restrictions on how close such businesses can be to each other in commercial zones.