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Norwich has high hopes for medical marijuana plant

By Claire Bessette

Publication: The Day

Published November 19. 2013 4:00AM
Two developers show interest in putting a manufacturing site in city industrial park

Norwich - Two competing entities have applied for state licenses to build medical marijuana production facilities in the vacant Decorative Screen Printing building in the Norwich business park, Norwich Community Development Corp. officials said Monday.

In a speech at the start of his final meeting in office, Mayor Peter Nystrom said he has been working with four entities in recent weeks to try to bring to Norwich at least one of the three medical marijuana manufacturing licenses the state plans to approve.

NCDC President Robert Mills said two of those four prospective developers have applied for state licenses by the Nov. 15 state deadline. Mills said 16 developers are competing for the three licenses, and two of those applications are for projects in the business park.

Jason Vincent, NCDC vice president, said developers David Kimmel of Montebello, N.Y., and Stephan Carrab ba of Bloomfield are considering the expansive vacant building at 9 Wisconsin Ave. in the Stanley Israelite Norwich Business Park. Vincent said while the city likely could only hope for at most one license approval, the property could accommodate both if they chose to work in partnership.

NCDC officials said the state is expected to announce licensing decisions in early 2014, and if one or both of the Norwich applications prevail, construction could start by next fall.

Nystrom and NCDC officials said they believe Norwich has advantages over other Connecticut cities and towns that could help the developers obtain their licenses.

First, Mills said, the business park already is zoned to allow medical marijuana facilities, as they are considered pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities.

Nystrom said the presence of the city-owned Norwich Public Utilities is another advantage with its strong reliability record during and after major storms. Nystrom said uninterrupted power is a "necessity" for this type of facility. Nystrom said one estimate showed the facility could generate $1 million in utility revenue per year.

"I believe we have the best position in the state in my opinion to be able to safely help with this new industry," Nystrom said. 'We are blessed in this city to own our own electric company, one that is known as the best in Connecticut, and in my opinion I think the best in the country."

Vincent said he reached out to one of the developers, Kimmel, after reading that he was "frustrated" working with one potential Connecticut host town. Vincent stressed to Kimmel that Norwich would welcome the facility and assured the developer that it would meet zoning regulations.

"We are pleased that you are considering Norwich as a potential site for such a facility," Nystrom wrote to Kimmel and the three other potential developers, "and our team of professionals within City Hall, Norwich Public Utilities and Norwich Community Development Corporation are all here to assist you through this process."

c.bessette@theday.com

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