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Simsbury Zoning Commission Approves Medical Marijuana Production Use for 100 Grist Mill Road

Curaleaf would need to secure state license before proceeding.

Dwight H. Merriam of Robinson & Cole speaks about the application.
Dwight H. Merriam of Robinson & Cole speaks about the application.

By a 4-2 vote Monday night the Simsbury Zoning Commission approved a Site Plan and Special Exception for a medical marijuana production facility at 100 Grist Mill Road.

Curaleaf, LLC is hoping to obtain one of three initial state licenses under Connecticut Medical Marijuana program and would still need that to move forward. 

During a public hearing for the Simsbury Zoning Commission Monday, company representatives and consultants presented details of their plan, focusing on issues such as location, aesthetics, security, the proposed product and more.

Dwight H. Merriam of Robinson & Cole gave a power point presentation in which he talked about many aspects of the building. He talked about the state’s stringent security requirements inside and out, the plan for climb-resistant aesthetically pleasing fencing, 24-7 security guards and the site’s natural screening and low visibility.

“That’s really one of the things that makes this site ideal,” Merriam said. 

Other than security, changes to the outside of the building would be minimal but plans do call for a solar power roof and rainwater retention, Merriam said.

Chief operating officer April Arrasate said the facility with a former high tech use is also ideal due to characteristics such as 8 clean rooms, a chiller, adequate power and more.

“In short its brilliantly designed for our use,” she said.

Consultants also touted low traffic impact and more. Some questions did surround lighting and Merriam offered to notice neighbors once a system was installed so any necessary adjustments could be made. 

The company said it would initially have well over a million dollars in equipment, employ about 20 people and use about half of the building's 40,000 square feet. 

Representatives also spoke briefly about the product. They said a big part of the production would involve research and development and the company has advocated other compounds traditionally found in cannabis, stating that the THC would be largely stripped out in favor or other beneficial properties.

Initially the product would be largely offered in smokeable form but the goal is to quickly get away from that, first with a vapor and eventually as a pill, wafer or other non-smoking product, the company said. 

“Nobody believes smoking is a good way to medicate,” said Curaleaf president Eileen Konieczny, a 20-plus year oncology nurse and advocate.

The only public participation at the hearing was Ron Janeczko of Landworks Development, which has worked on much of the surrounding developments. He said the applicants had been cooperative and only reiterated the need for the property to be clearly marked as private and made one suggestions in a traffic pattern.

While no one from the public opposed the plans, commissioner William J. Fiske spoke strongly against the idea. He said marijuana is the most sought after illicit drug in the country and said security could falter, employees could succumb to temptation to profit and said it will be a drain on police resources.

He said it was also not aligned with the character of Simsbury and said he disagreed with a comment that it would be similar to concerns about explosives at a historic business.

“This does not need to be part of Simsbury,” he said.

David Ryan said he respectfully disagreed and felt the applicants had a plans for a secure operation

“I think Will’s comments are important but this is really almost a sealed operation,” he said.

Chairman Robert D. Pomeroy, Jr. said it’s also an activity the state has legalized.

The commission approved the application 4-2. 

Voting to approve: Robert Pomeroy, David Ryan, Kevin Gray and Derek Peterson.

Voting No: Willam Fiske, and Vaughan A. Marecki.

Before producing medicinal marijuana, the company would have to secure a state license. Those decisions are expected some time early next year. 

See more about Curaleaf's philosophy in this earlier story

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