Winsted prepares for public hearing on cannabis ordinance for businesses

The first five customers wait in line to enter Apothecarium Dispensary on April 21, 2022, in Maplewood, New Jersey. Dispensaries like this one may open in Connecticut soon for sale of recreational marijuana.

The first five customers wait in line to enter Apothecarium Dispensary on April 21, 2022, in Maplewood, New Jersey. Dispensaries like this one may open in Connecticut soon for sale of recreational marijuana.

Michael M. Santiago / Getty Images

WINSTED — The center area of downtown Main Street, the heart of the business community, is excluded from any cannabis businesses, according to regulations drafted by the Planning & Zoning Commission.

Even though the commission included Main Street in its new ordinance, which is heading to public hearings in June, members are restricting exactly where in that area a cannabis business can be. The commission “can grant a special permit to allow locating retail, hybrid retail, and micro-cultivation cannabis establishments in the Town Gateway, Town Center, and Production and Innovation,” the commission’s regulation states. It also excludes Main Street from East End Park to the Beardsley Library.

Cannabis businesses, according to the regulation, also cannot be located “within 200 feet of a residential zone, school or daycare building, place of worship or playground, (or) located on Main Street from East End Park to the Beardsley Library.”

Lawmakers gave their final approval for the bill, “An Act Concerning Responsible and Equitable Regulation of Adult-Use Cannabis,” in June 2021, legalizing the sale and cultivation of marijuana for adults over 21. The legislation creates a structure for recreational marijuana markets and eliminates criminal convictions for certain marijuana-based offenses. Adults are allowed to have up to 1.5 ounces of marijuana with them and up to 5 ounces in a locked container in their home or car’s glove compartment or trunk.

According to the bill, cities and towns can prohibit these businesses through local zoning ordinances, or restrict the location of retail establishments related to schools, churches and hospitals. Residents can also petition for a vote on whether a town should allow them.

During a meeting Monday night, members of the zoning commission discussed their next step with the zoning regulation. Alternate member Charlene LaVoie, while reading through it, questioned the Main Street exclusion.

“No establishment allowed on Main Street, from East End Park to the Beardsley Library? What else is there?” she asked.

Commissioners said that area was excluded per the Board of Selectmen’s request, and said there are plenty of other places the new cannabis stores and growers could go.

“There aren’t that many commercial zones other than Main Street,” LaVoie said. “Where else ... Further up North Main?”

The Winsted PZC zoning regulation identifies town zones where retail sales and cultivation of cannabis would be allowed: town center, the town gateway and production innovation (industrial or manufacturing).

During a previous discussion of the commission’s draft of the ordinance, Chairman George Closson proposed keeping businesses in the town center zone of Main Street, the town gateway, Route 44, Winsted Road and the industrial/innovation zone, the town’s industrial park.

“We’ve got potential on our Main Street, the huge flexibility of what can be done in the town gateway (area), and innovation zone, in case something comes up with the industrial part (of the cannabis) industry, growing it, things like that,” Closson said at the time.

Monday, zoning officer Pam Colombie pointed to many streets off Main Street in the town center area that are zoned residential/town center. The new zone for cannabis businesses wouldn’t be allowed near those neighborhoods anyway, she said.

Commissioner Craig Sanden and Closson said the regulation included Route 800 and Route 44 as “gateway” areas, which are away from the center of town, as an allowed area.

“There’s a gas station at 787 Main St., were it’s allowed,” Colombie said. “Someone could take that and convert it.”

The commission has scheduled a public hearing on their proposed ordinance for 7 p.m. June 13 at the Winsted Town Hall, which will continue to a second hearing on June 27. Residents can read the proposed ordinance at

Connecticut on Feb. 3 opened its first 90-day application period for retailers and disproportionately impacted area cultivators. Application periods for other license types will open on a rolling basis.

Torrington’s City Council is holding a hearing on its proposed ordinance May 2. It focuses on where cannabis can be used, and where it can’t, concerning town parks and other recreation areas, for example.