New regulations in place

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BEACON FALLS — The Planning and Zoning Commission adopted new zoning regulations last week to dictate where methadone clinics as well as medical marijuana dispensaries and production facilities can be located in town.

A moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries and methadone clinics was put into place in April 2014 so the commission could craft regulations. The town previously had no regulations regarding either medical marijuana, which was legalized in Connecticut in 2013, or methadone clinics.

“We had nothing in our established regulations. So now we have something to go by,” Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman Kevin McDuffie said.

The new regulations state medical marijuana production operations can only be located in the town’s industrial park district. Medical marijuana dispensaries can operate in business district 1, business district 2 or the industrial park district zones, under the new regulations.

The regulations also dictate that a dispensary or production facility can not be within 500 feet of a place of worship, a public building, a school or daycare facility. They also aren’t allowed to be within 750 of a property that is zoned for a single-family residence.

The regulations also state medical marijuana dispensaries and growing facilities can’t be within 500 feet of another medical clinic, medical marijuana dispensary or production facility.

The regulations state methadone clinics can not be treated differently from other medical clinics or similar out-patient treatment facilities. The regulation changes approved last week specify that medical clinics and out-patient facilities may not be within 500 feet of a place of worship, a public building, a school or daycare facility. They also can’t be within 750 of a property that is zoned for residential use.

The new regulations go into effect on Aug 7. The moratorium remains in place until then.
A public hearing on the changes was held prior to their adoption at the commission’s July 16 meeting.

Resident Gary Komarowsky took issue with the amount of regulations being placed on the facilities. He said medical marijuana is recognized as a legal medicine by the state.

“You wouldn’t do this to a pharmacy. This is a medical-grade instrument. It happens to be a single medical-grade instrument as opposed to the pharmacy, which has a multitude of drugs available. Opioids, derivatives of heroin, are available from Beacon Falls Pharmacy. But you’re not saying you can’t be within 500 feet of a church. You’re not saying it can’t be within 500 feet of a house,” Komarowsky said.

According to the regulations, any design plan submitted for a medical marijuana production facility or dispensary must also be accompanied by a security plan, which will be referred to the chief of police for review and comment.

A permit for a medical marijuana production facility or dispensary must be renewed two years after it was first issued. After the first renewal, the commission may ask for the permit to be renewed again every two to five years.

Attorney Steve Byrne, the town’s land use counsel, said the likelihood of the town receiving a license for a medical marijuana dispensary or production facility in the near future is not too high.

“The state has offered six licenses for dispensaries and they have all been taken up. The state is considering offering three more licenses. So the odds of Beacon Falls, within the next five to 10 years, getting more than one of these are slim to none. This is probably a little over protective,” Byrne said.

Komarowsky also voiced concerns on the limited places the town would allow methadone clinics.

“As far as methadone, are you afraid that people are going to wander down here from Waterbury,” Komarowsky said.

Commissioner Raymond Jurzynski said the regulations were put into place to keep clinics away from homes.

“We’re not afraid of anything, we’re just trying to keep it out of your house in a residential zone,” Jurzynski said. “That’s all we are trying to do, keep it out of a residential zone. We’re trying to maintain the value of residences here in Beacon Falls.”

Byrne said facilities such as methadone clinics are known to generate heavy traffic.

“It’s an outpatient facility and can be quite busy, something you might not want on a quiet street,” Byrne said.