Franklin Countys First News

Wilton Select Board hosts marijuana ordinance workshop and public hearing

WILTON - On Tuesday evening, before their usual 6 p.m. meeting that is live streamed to the public, the Wilton select board had already been on Zoom for an hour discussing the anticipated changes to the Marijuana Retail Facilities Ordinance.

Code Enforcement Officer Charlie Lavin and the rest of the town’s planning board have been revising the ordinance and presented their proposal to the select board to unite their understanding of the changes before the public hearing.

The biggest change in the ordinance will be the caps on cultivation and retail permits that the select board can approve, that had previously been debilitating marijuana growers, for both recreational and medical use.

“We took all the limits out. It’s the Libertarian approach, letting the marketplace decide,” said Lavin.

This would allow growers to establish more units under their businesses, benefiting the health of the market. There is still some disagreement in the wording of the retail establishment amendments in the ordinance revision, and Lavin and the rest of the planning board will continue to refine those changes until a decision is reached and the select board can begin to approve permits for retail as well as cultivation units.

At the public hearing that directly followed, four permits were brought forward for the board’s approval. Initially there was hesitation in approving them, since it would exceed the cap that is presently in place through the ordinance, but the board unanimously voted them through anyway, since there were no doubts that the ordinance would be changed in the near future. The board was also aware of how denying more permit applications would only aggravate the hindrances on businesses who are waiting for the changes to the ordinance to be made official. One of the business owners, Travis Grey, has been waiting for the board’s approval for some time, and his business as suffered as a result.

“We’re trying to rectify that in our ordinance,” said Lavin, conscious of the impact their time frame has on the business community. The public hearing was in short attendance and ended promptly.

The Wilton Fire Department asked the board to approve a purchase of a new generator and gear extractor that would be paid for with the capital account. While the purchase of the gear extractor was unanimously approved, the board showed concern with the cost of the generator and asked Fire Chief Sonny Dunham to return to them with more estimates for other brands of generators. Dunham attempted to impress the urgency of the generator, saying that the current one at the fire department is almost 30 years old, manual, and often shuts down.

“I’ve had to go down there in the middle of the night to try and start it up. And if it doesn’t start, I can’t get the doors open,” said Dunham.

The board was firm in their decision though, their attention on lowering capital expenses.

An update from Town Manager Rhonda Irish resumed conversations about the upcoming broadband initiative. The Broadband Committee met about a month ago to discuss plans for the upcoming effort, at which point the Greater Franklin Development company who is working with Wilton in the project, will be putting together a survey to collect feedback for the next committee meeting.

“It was a good meeting, but we have to start moving a little quicker as we get into December and January, because Greater Franklin is putting in grants to the state and is wanting the select board to show their support. But at the same time, we have to determine the amount that would mean for Wilton. . . It’s still going to be a good sized investment, but with the grants, it should be less than we previously thought,” said Irish.

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