Meriden BOE mulls response to proposed dispensary

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MERIDEN — The city’s Board of Education is consulting with its attorney before weighing in on a proposed cannabis dispensary within 500 feet of a building that houses programs for teens and disabled adults.

Members of the city’s Planning Commission last week agreed to continue a public hearing on the proposed dispensary at 28 W.Main St. after members of the public raised concerns about the nearby programs run by the school district. The hearing is expected to resume next month.

City Council candidate Dan Zaborowski raised concerns about students enrolled in the program passing the dispensary on their way to the YMCA or other downtown locations.

Planning Department Director Paul Dickson initially said he believed the city’s approved regulations set a minimum distance of 500 feet between any dispensary and a public K-12 school, but agreed to look into the matter. The Success Academy and Community Classroom Collaborative programs are run by the school system and housed at 14-16 Church St., which is owned by the Meriden YMCA.

Attorney Dennis Cenevia, who represented Blue Leaf LLC/BGE LLC before the commission, noted during the public hearing last week that there was no opposing correspondence from School Superintendent Mark Benigni. He added there would be no signs on the building or windows of the business promoting cannabis products.

“These are products that cannot be consumed on premises and designed to be purchased and consumed at home,” Ceneviva said.

He also noted that because applicant Biagio Gulino had filed a special permit request prior to a 90-day moratorium on dispensary applications, recently approved regulations on cannabis retailers did not apply. Ceneviva asked that the application be treated as any other retail establishment, similar to a package store, in the city’s transit-oriented district.

Board of Education President Robert Kosienski Jr. said Wednesday that Dickson had asked administrators to define the Success Academy and Community Classroom programs. The Success Academy is for disaffected teens struggling to finish high school. The community program offers cooking and other skills training to help disabled adults, ages 18-21 live independently.

Koskienski said they were waiting for word from the board’s attorney before issuing a possible response to the proposed dispensary.

Biagio Gulino is the son of Ross Gulino, a member of the Planning Commission, a partner with BGE LLC and owner of 28 W. Main St. Ross Gulinio has recused himself from discussions about cannabis regulations and the proposed dispensary.

mgodin@record-journal.com203-317-2255Twitter: @Cconnbiz

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