WEST HAVEN >> Sometime before too long, there may be a legal medical marijuana dispensary in West Haven as well as a growing facility — but it won’t be within the next 90 days and it won’t be at 732 Washington Ave., near where the Metro-North railroad bridge floods.
The Planning and Zoning Commission late Tuesday night unanimously denied Thomas Macre’s special permit application to put what would be one of Connecticut’s first medical marijuana dispensaries in a vacant 9,600-square-foot industrial building at 732 Washington.
Members said they liked Macre’s presentation but thought the location was all wrong.
Then they unanimously approved another agenda item to enact a temporary moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries in the city so they could try to pass some regulations governing how and where such facilities can operate.
West Haven already is host to one of the four growing operations approved by the state, although it has yet to begin operation.
After hearing Macre’s plea to work with the city and not get shut out of a possible location for his “Connecticut Compassion Center,” or “C+Three,” just as the state is getting ready to designate a very limited number of dispensaries, PZC members limited the moratorium to 90 days.
“You did a great presentation and I’m actually in favor of a medical marijuana dispensary in the city of West Haven,” said PZC member Chris Suggs, one of several members who offered similar assessments.
But he said the quiet neighborhood, off bus lines and the main Campbell Avenue artery, was not the right place for it.
“There are really serious issues over there,” Suggs said.
PZC member Steven R. Mullins felt the same way.
“I could support this application, but I can’t support it in that location, at all,” Mullins said, pointing out that five years ago, he took part in the rescue of a woman stuck in a car that stalled in several feet of water under the railroad bridge.
“I think this is a good thing for West Haven, but I don’t think that location is what’s needed,” Mullins said. “It needs to be on a busline in a commercial area.”
The discussion followed a presentation by Macre, who already operates MedTech Healthcare Solutions, an Orange-based medical device company that specializes in chronic pain management, including alternative therapies to opioid pain management.
Macre filed a dispensary application with the state of state Department of Consumer Protection on Nov. 15, he said.
He said he wants to move MedTech to the same facility as the new dispensary, although the two businesses would be operated separately as required by Connecticut’s medical marijuana regulations.
Macre estimated the dispensary would create 10-15 new jobs in West Haven. He said the state expects to license just three to five dispenaries that will be geographically dispersed.
Marijuana, according to state regulations, will be available only from a licensed pharmacy, and communities will be protected by tight regulation that require dispensaries to be located and designed “in a manner that will not negatively impact their local community,” he said.
There would be tight internal controls, with medical marijuana stored in safes and vaults, with no medicating allowed on premises or in public and only registered patients and caregivers are allowed to enter the facility, which would have 24-hour security, seven days a week.
He estimated that just 16 or 17 patients a day would visit.
Two people besides Macre and onetime city Economic Development Director Fred Messore, who is the real estate listing agent, spoke in favor of the application during the public hearing, with Patty Whitlock supporting it for humanitarian reasons, saying, “I think this is a good thing for the city of West Haven.”
But Macre’s assurance didn’t quench the fears of several neighbors who spoke against it.
“I’m not necessarily against a dispensary” but “I’m against where they’re proposing to put it…” said Dina Contarino. “Our street is not a commercial street like Campbell Avenue.”
She pointed out that the facility would be within 200 feet of the West Haven Community House playground and said it would reduce the value of her home.
“I’m not against what they’re providing,” said resident Gary Clark. But “maybe there’s other spots, other places in West Haven.”
“This is the wrong use in the wrong place,” said resident Ray Smith. “It belongs on a bus line in the middle of a commercial area or an industrial area.”
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