SIMSBURY — The zoning commission gave its approval to a proposed medical marijuanaproduction facility on Grist Mill Road.
The 4-2 vote Monday passed a site plan amendment and special exception for the business.
The vote clears the way for the company, Curaleaf LLC, based in Greenwich, to develop and operate the facility in an existing building on the property pending approval from the state.
“Ultimately what we are looking to do is provide more options to qualifying patients,” said April Arrasate, a local attorney who serves as chief operating officer for Curaleaf. “Our goal is to reach patients that aren’t accustomed to using this as a medicine, what we want to do is move away from smoking.”
The proposal passed following a short public hearing in which no one spoke against the facility but a request was made from a nearby developer to alter a turn-around on the street, according to Commissioner David Ryan.
Ryan said that the two commissioners that voted against the proposal voiced concerns that marijuana from the facility would make its way into town.
“As the chairman said it is a legal use of the property,” Ryan said in an interview Tuesday. “They are taking all the steps required..”
Part of what drew the company to Simsbury was the building, formerly owned by Ensign Bickford, was used for manufacturing and fits the needs for the production facility, according to Arrasate.
The property on Grist Mill Road is currently owned by the Grist Mill Partners LLC, which in its lease agreed to a deal with the marijuana production facility, according to the application to the town.
The company plans to have 20 employees at maximum initially, including growers, security and manufacturers, Arrasate said. As part of the business plan, the group could expand to about 30 employees if demand from patients increases.
In retrofitting the 40,000 square foot building to its needs, Curaleaf plans to invest nearly $2 million dollars in the facility, according to Arrasate, which will include security upgrades.
“A lot of the security is what you would find in a pharmaceutical manufacturer that has a valuable product,” Arrasate said.
Among the features of the security, according to the company, would be limited access, alarms, cameras, a fence surrounding the facility and security guards working 24 hours a day.
Arrasate said that the product will be closely monitored.
“We have software that we could track every gram from seed to sale,” she said.
The building will not be accessible to the public and Arrasate said it is not in a place where people would just happen by.
All the product would be taken from the facility to dispensaries, not distributed or sold on site, she said.
Scott F. Hesketh, a traffic engineer with F. A. Hesketh and Associates, wrote the commission as part of Curaleaf’s application that the facility wouldn’t have an impact on local traffic.
Curaleaf is currently one of 16 groups vying for the three licenses the state will approve in the coming year to produce medical marijuana.
Arrasate said that the company feels that it has a knowledgeable and skilled team that put together a strong application and wanted to continue with the process in town.
In October, the zoning commission approved an amendment to regulations that would allow medical marijuana facilities in a specific zone should it meet the requirements of a special exception.
By Nick Rondinone, Hartford Courant.