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Medical marijuana site wins Westport planners’ approval

Coastal Healing will be Westport’s first such facility

By Bruce Burdett
Posted 5/28/20

WESTPORT — After several lengthy hearings, the Planning Board voted its unanimous approval on May 20 for Westport’s first medical marijuana facility.

Coastal Healing, at 248 State …

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Medical marijuana site wins Westport planners’ approval

Coastal Healing will be Westport’s first such facility

Posted

WESTPORT — After several lengthy hearings, the Planning Board voted its unanimous approval on May 20 for Westport’s first medical marijuana facility.

Coastal Healing, at 248 State Road, will cultivate, treat and distribute medical marijuana, both to customers on site and wholesale to other suppliers.

No recreational sales are allowed for now, but Brian Corey, the company’s attorney, said a request to allow that there as well is likely in the future.

“Right now,” the application is only for medical marijuana, Mr. Corey said. “Recreational sales cannot occur unless a new application is filed — in the near future.”

The 2.5-acre lot, which is empty now that the old house there has been demolished, is next door to Holiday Lanes bowling alley and almost across from Mid-City Scrap.

Mr. Corey told the board that 55 percent of the marijuana grown at the facility will be sold on site at the dispensary; the other 45 percent can be sold wholesale to other facilities.

The company anticipates approximately 43 customers a day” on average, Mr. Corey said, and hours of operation allowed are 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

If there are 16,800 visits per year, he said, and each customer buys half an ounce of marijuana, that would come to 700 ounces per month and 525 pounds per year.

The facility will contain 14,519 square feet of floor space — a 10,000 square-foot main floor plus a mezzanine for office space and other uses. That is more than the 10,000 square feet allowed but board members were not overly concerned by that since the business will have around double the required parking.

Westport will benefit by way of taxes paid, Mr. Corey said. Not only will the town receive a 3 percent direct tax but state law also allows it to receive another 3 percent from taxes collected by the state.

“The more successful the facility is, the more successful the town is,” he said.

Traffic in and out of busy four-lane State Road remained the foremost concern of Planning Board members and the police chief, despite traffic studies provided by the applicant that say the amount of additional traffic will not create significant issues.

“There is already “a bunch of complex movement” at that location on State Road, said board member Robert Daylor. Not only is there traffic in and out of the bowling alley next door, but the opening in the road’s center island there is used frequently by drivers as a State Road turnaround — the first one that side of Route 88. He and others were also concerned that cars waiting to turn in to the facility from might create a line of stopped vehicles, especially on busy Saturdays..

He and others also stressed that they do not want waste water from marijuana processing allowed into septic systems — and from there into the ground water.

A condition added to the approval vote requires that any growing or processing water be allowed must be processed separately and not allowed into the septic system.

Signage and other visible promotion will be limited — “There will be no giant pot leaves out front,” Mr. Corey said. That is not allowed by the state “and our client is determined to be a good neighbor. … We’re not allowed to have products visible from any street.”

He added that he does not believe that a bowling alley qualifies as a location where children congregate — marijuana facilities are not allowed near schools, for instance.

Security, he added, abides by strict standards set by the state.

How do customer financial transactions take place, Mr. Corey was asked at the previous hearing. How is it expected that customers will pay?

“Mostly cash,” Mr. Corey said —upwards of 85 to 90 percent. “That is not a function of the business owner. That is a function of federal banking laws. As we know it’s still illegal under federal law,” even though it is legal in Massachusetts and other states.

Under state law, that cash would be accounted for by the plant tracking system, by the fact that all cash would be taken by separate courier to a bank in an unmarked vehicle, and other means.

“It is small,” Mr. Corey said at an earlier hearing, compared to medical marijuana growing and selling centers elsewhere in the state which are 30,000 to 40,000 square feet and more in size.

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