MERIDEN — Officials have proposed enacting a three month moratorium on new cannabis establishments, a move designed to give the city time to craft and adopt zoning regulations.
The issue was discussed during a remote meeting of the City Council’s Economic Development, Housing and Zoning Committee on Tuesday night.
Meriden is one of several communities statewide to weigh a moratorium on cannabis establishments since last month when Gov. Ned Lamont signed into law legislation that legalized marijuana possession, cultivation and consumption for residents over 21. The law went into effect July 1.
The moratorium would be imposed from August 6 through November 19, according to a proposed City Council resolution. During that time, new cannabis establishments would be prohibited and no city boards or agents would review any applications.
Paul Dickson, the city’s acting director of Development and Enforcement, provided a brief overview of the new cannabis law. Dickson explained the rationale behind recommending the moratorium. He said the three months would provide enough time for staff to develop proposed zoning regulations and hold a public hearing.
Committee members raised the question of the proposed moratorium’s scope — whether it should be solely on retail recreational marijuana establishments or manufacturing businesses as well.
Other communities have enacted considerably longer moratoriums, Dickson said.
City officials intend to hold a public hearing on the proposed moratorium on August 2, the date of the council’s next scheduled meeting.
Dickson said the city currently has medical marijuana production already. It was approved in areas zoned for industrial use and went through a process similar to that of a pharmaceutical company, Dickson explained.
Economic Development Director Joseph Feest told committee members his office has already received meeting requests with prospective cannabis establishments.
“People are interested in us and how we go about doing this,” Feest said.
“From an economic development standpoint there is a large market for it and it is a hot one,” Feest said. “People are looking at us and how we handle things.”
On Tuesday, he committee also held a hearing, which it will continue at its August meeting, on a proposal to reduce from 1,500 feet to 750 feet the required space between digital billboards. Meanwhile, the committee voted to recommend the City Council as a whole extend its Master Development Agreement with Pennrose-Cloud Developer, LLC until July 2022 for the development of the Meriden Green.