Zoning Plan Would Isolate Pot Shops – New Haven Independent

Nora Grace-Flood photo

At Hamden’s High Bazaar. Proposed New Haven law would ban such “private marijuana vending events, cannabis trade shows or public cannabis events.”

High Bazaar” in New Haven? Not anytime soon.

That’s according to a newly proposed zoning update that would prohibit the types of weekly commercial cannabis parties that currently take place in Hamden — as part of a broader city effort to define where pot shops should and should not be allowed in the Elm City.

Those marijuana-regulating details are included in a proposed set of city zoning code and map amendments recently submitted by the City Plan Department to the Board of Alders.

The legislative item is included as a communication on the agenda for Tuesday’s Board of Alders meeting. The proposal now heads to the City Plan Commission and one or more aldermanic committees for public hearings and reviews before returning to the full Board of Alders for a final vote.

Click here to read the proposed cannabis-zoning updates in full.

The proposed local cannabis regulations come on the heels of the state’s legalization of recreational marijuana last year as part of the Responsible and Equitable Regulation of Adult-Use Cannabis Act (RERACA), which went into effect on July 1, 2021.

That law gives Connecticut municipalities a wide latitude to regulate where pot can be bought, sold, grown, and consumed within the borders of their own city or town. As of earlier this month, Connecticut’s Department of Consumer Protection has started accepting applications from entrepreneurs looking to get licensed to work in the newly legalized cannabis economy.

So, where does the City Plan Department propose allowing New Haven’s legal cannabis economy to grow? 

The zoning update would allow cannabis retailers, dispensary facilities, cultivators, and producers to set up shop in business and industrial zones only. Those businesses would need to get a special permit” from the City Plan Commission before they could legally open up shop. 

The proposed law would also allow cannabis delivery services and transporters to operate in these districts as of right, with no special permission required.

So, these businesses would be allowed (by special permit or, for delivery services and transporters, as of right) in the BA, BA1, BA2, BA2, BB, BC, BD, BD1, BD2, BD3, CGD, IL or IH zones.

The proposed city law would bar pot shops and associated ventures from opening in any residential zones, or within 500 feet of any elementary or secondary schools, or within 1,500 feet of any another cannabis establishment.

It would prohibit the smoking, ingestion or use of cannabis in all indoor public places” such as libraries, bars, restaurants, theaters, shopping malls, and public transportation facilities.

And it would prohibit temporary cannabis events, including but not limited to private marijuana vending events, cannabis trade shows or public cannabis events … unless authorized by state law.” 

That means New Haven would not allow any Elm City version of Hamden’s popular (if controversial) High Bazaar events, where hundreds of people gather every week to buy, sell, trade, and promote cannabis and cannabis-related products while also jamming out to music.

The Board of Alders acknowledges that it is in the best interest of the City of New Haven that all cannabis that is cultivated, processed, manufactured, distributed, tested, or sold in the City of New Haven is well-regulated, environmentally responsible, and economically sustainable,” reads one of the Whereas” clauses in the proposed zoning update now before the local legislature.

Another Whereas” clause reads: the Board of Alders seeks to prohibit the commercial cultivation of adult-use cannabis in residential zones and provide locations within commercial and industrial districts where Cannabis may be cultivated, grown, sold, distributed, or dispensed”.

Still another reads: the Board of Alders seeks to protect and preserve peace, order, property and safety of persons as a result of issues associated with Cannabis Establishments, including but not limited to problems with insufficient or improper electrical supply, problems with ventilation leading to mold, offensive odors, or other health hazards and other hazards which are associated with the commercial cultivation of Cannabis within the City of New Haven and which is otherwise often difficult to detect and regulate”.

See below for the proposed zoning update and amendments in full.

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