Commission eyes moratorium


BEACON FALLS — The Planning and Zoning Commission is looking to take a proactive approach to the possibility of a methadone clinic or marijuana dispensary coming to town.

The commission is considering placing a moratorium on methadone clinics and marijuana dispensaries. The moratorium would prevent such a clinic or dispensary from opening in town while the commission develops zoning regulations to guide where they could go.

The commission is looking at implementing a 12-month moratorium. A public hearing on the moratorium was held prior to the commission’s Feb. 20 meeting.

Town Attorney Steven Byrne said without specific guidelines it’s possible a clinic or dispensary could come into town under the regulations that dictate medical offices.

Commission Chairman Joe Fitzpatrick said the commission doesn’t want to be in a position where it gets an application for a clinic or dispensary without any specific regulations for them. A moratorium, he said, would give the commission a chance to figure out where in town would be the place for a clinic or dispensary if a company wanted to open one in Beacon Falls.

When the issue came up during its meeting last week, the commission tabled a vote on the moratorium until March in order to gain another month to gather information. 

The commission’s plan comes at a time when a proposed methadone clinic is causing an uproar in Waterbury.

Methadone is used to treat people addicted to heroin or other opioids. New Era Rehabilitation Center has applied to open a clinic at 447 Meriden Road in Waterbury, which is near Chase Elementary School. The proposal has drawn concerns due to its proximity to the school.

Medical marijuana has also seen its share of attention in the state lately.

The legislature approved the use of medical marijuana last year. In January, the state announced four companies had been approved for a license to grow marijuana. Among the applicants approved was Theraplan LLC, which will build a growing facility in Watertown.

The state is expected to award licenses for medical marijuana dispensaries by the end of March.

Across the country, the recreational use of marijuana has been legalized in Colorado and Washington with dispensaries already operating in Colorado. The recreational use of marijuana remains illegal in Connecticut.

Fitzpatrick said the moratorium wouldn’t include facilities to grow medical marijuana, only dispensaries. He said the commission would be in favor of a medical marijuana production facility in Beacon Falls because it would generate good tax revenue for the town.