Vernon Superintendent Speaks Against Proposed Pot Zoning Amendment | Newsletters


VERNON – A proposed zoning change for retail cannabis in Vernon is causing controversy over the currently proposed separation distance from school zones.

If the proposed amendment were passed, a separation distance of 500 feet would be established between cannabis retail establishments and schools in the city. For Vernon superintendent Joseph Macary, this distance is far too short for comfort.

In a public hearing regarding the proposed amendment on Thursday, Macary said the proposed separation distance is in violation of federal and state law.

“There is a federal law and a state law that says there are supposed to be drug-free school zones. And these school zones are 1,500 feet from the school zone boundary, not from the entry point, ”Macary said.

He added that if the Vernon PZC passed the amendment, it would have to report it to the state to seek “clarification on zoning regulations versus state law.”

Macary also said that under Vernon school policy, elementary students who live half a mile or less from their school must walk to school, and middle and high school students who live a mile or less away from their school. less of the school have to walk.

If the proposed change is passed, these students could potentially walk past a cannabis retail store on their way to school every day, which would negatively affect the students and cause them to start smoking.

“We want to protect our children. We want to defend them. Having any type of installation like this within 5,000 feet is problematic. Fifteen hundred feet is the law. And it is within the limits of the school, ”he said during the hearing.

Michelle Hill, president of the Vernon Rocks Coalition which aims to reduce drug addiction among young people in Vernon, also spoke out against the separation distance proposed during the hearing.

“Honestly, the biggest concern in allowing cannabis retail outlets near schools is the effect it will have on the perspective of young people on the harms of marijuana, as well as the increased access that can result.” , she said.

She added that students who walk past a cannabis company every day can “perceive their product to be safe.”

The PZC briefly discussed the proposed change in separation distance during the hearing.

PZC member Robin Lockwood mentioned that if the distance was extended to 5,000 feet, there would be less space available in town to place a cannabis retail establishment. She also mentioned that there are already liquor stores down the street from Vernon Schools.

PZC member Michael Mitchell said, “If we allow alcohol in a certain range in a school district, how can we say no to something similar? “

PZC member Jesse Schoolnik wanted to know if cannabis is officially considered a drug now that it’s legal in Connecticut to see if it should be kept away from school zones.

Ultimately, the decision was made to extend the public hearing until the November 18 meeting to further discuss the proposed amendment and take a look at maps of the city that would show where cannabis establishments could go. if the separation distance was increased.

Ben covers Coventry and Tolland for the Journal Inquirer.

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