SOUTHINGTON — Town planners are still considering a medical marijuana dispensary on Queen Street and have scheduled a hearing on another dispensary proposed on Knotter Drive.
The Planning and Zoning Commission held a second public hearing on the Queen Street application Tuesday but didn’t vote on it.
Southington and surrounding towns have seen a surge in applications for medical marijuana dispensaries. The state Department of Consumer Protection is looking to license more facilities to handle the increase in patients with marijuana prescriptions. Local zoning approval is a requirement for a state license.
Praveen Dhulipalla, a pharmacist who has locations around the state, is requesting a special permit for a dispensary at 995 Queen St.
Raj Patel, a partner with About Wellness LLC, of Cromwell, is looking to establish a dispensary at 30 Knotter Drive. He chose the location since it’s in an industrial area away from homes.
Southington drew up regulations on medical marijuana dispensaries after the state allowed them. Patel said that was another reason he chose Southington.
“There are plenty of towns that do not allow or have moratoriums set up at this time. That is a challenge for us,” he said.
During Tuesday’s hearing, people on both sides of the marijuana debate spoke.
Tracy Wales, a River Street resident, said a medical marijuana dispensary so close to homes wasn’t appropriate.
“This is a residential, family neighborhood just houses down from where the kids get picked up by the bus,” she said. The proposed facility “doesn’t feel family-oriented.”
Thomas O’Connell, a Southington resident who takes medical marijuana to treat pain from a back injury, said he’d like to see a dispensary closer to his home than the place he currently goes in Bristol. Since he’s not allowed to drive while taking marijuana, he gets rides to pick up his prescription.
“It would be fantastic if there were one in town,” O’Connell said.
PZC members said their focus was on zoning regulations, not the controversy over marijuana.
Peter Santago, a commission member, said he wanted information on whether a dispensary near residential areas would hurt property values.
Commission Chairman Michael Del Santo said he’d like to see a study by a real estate professional. The commission left the public hearing open.