Stonington Borough extends moratorium on cannabis establishments as it looks to ban them
Stonington―The Borough Planning and Zoning Commission held a public hearing on Thursday and voted to extend a moratorium on considering applications from people seeking to open cannabis-related businesses.
The commission passed the initial six-month moratorium in March to allow the borough time to develop regulations and pass them. The moratorium went into effect April 1 and was due to expire Oct. 1.
The commission discussed the issue formally at the September meeting, where it decided to write a letter to Warden Jeffrey Callahan and the burgesses asking them to propose an ordinance banning sales and cultivation.
Commission Chairman Don Maranell said that the commission felt an ordinance would be quicker and easier than creating regulations, and that, if the borough wanted to allow cannabis establishments in the future, the ordinance could be nullified and regulations could be put in place.
If an ordinance does not pass, the moratorium will still allow time to create zoning regulations.
Maranell explained that the size and density of the borough create unique issues for establishing regulations for cannabis establishments in a municipality which measures less than one square mile.
“To go right with what the state statute said early on, there weren’t too many areas that were eligible anyway. Then we were given the flexibility that we could look at things like parks, and we’ve got parks all over the place,” he said, noting that the town playground is located near the town docks which is right in the heart of the business district.
“The borough section is too concentrated, and it just comes with too many negatives for quality of life for our children and our people.” He cited traffic and parking issues among the drawbacks of a cannabis business.
Maranell said that over the summer, informal discussions with residents led commission members to begin thinking about banning cannabis establishments in the borough.
“We’ve been sitting here all summer trying to find a way-- where can we put this and feel like we’re open to this whole thing, because we are,” he said, adding, “but then you look at what is our responsibility to our residents, why planning and zoning exists, and when you put that hat on, then it doesn’t work in the borough.”
He concluded, “I think it will pass as an ordinance, but it can always be petitioned by the public.”
No residents spoke at the hearing, and the moratorium extension, which will run through December 31, passed unanimously, 5-0.