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Wilton Select Board meeting to discuss marijuana permits and ordinances

The Wilton Board of Selectpersons.

WILTON - Though there were several issues brought to the table at last night’s Wilton select board meeting, the item of most deliberation was the proposition of holding a public hearing regarding the amending of the restriction on permits that the town can give to new businesses who hope to grow or sell marijuana. The motion was previously alluded to in the last Wilton town meeting but was resumed this week via the discussion on Rick Collins’ latest request for a cultivation permit for a new warehouse in which to grow marijuana plants.

According to Charlie Lavin, the planning board has already approved it, but there was concern among the select board members because the nature of Collins’ project would require the approval of three of the seven total permits the board can approve for all marijuana businesses.

“Maybe putting caps on there wasn’t the best thing for a business-friendly environment,” Lavin said, who was in favor of supporting the new businesses and the board member pushing for a reevaluation of the permit allowance.

Fellow board member Tom Saviello proposed the idea of approving licenses per facility as a way to consolidate these types of businesses into single areas. Lavin suggested that they hold a public hearing to help set these changes into motion.

“We can craft the ordinance to fit the need. It’s a working document,” Lavin said.

But members voiced concerns about holding a public hearing on amending these restrictions before they were in agreement. Since no agreement could be met during the meeting last night, Leavitt suggested that they approve Collins’ permits, recognizing that it would take up a substantial amount of the remaining permits that they have available to give to businesses, but that they didn’t have the time to change much right now.

“Let’s live with what our residents have adopted for today and tomorrow move forward to fix it and allow for more businesses,” Leavitt said.

No motion was made to hold a public hearing or to vote on approving the permits.

Town Manager Rhonda Irish did introduce the idea of a workshop between the planning board and the select board to workshop the marijuana ordinance itself. They will discuss ways to modify it before bringing a new draft to an official town meeting. The workshop will be held on Nov. 17 at 5:00 p.m. and was unanimously approved by the board.

Based on a request from a community member, Saviello brought to the meeting the idea for a monument to be erected in the Lakeside Cemetery in honor of EMS personal, veterans and local police officers.

“The cost would be fairly low, and it would be a place that belongs to the public, for people to go and reflect,” Saviello said.

The monument would feature no names but would honor those three groups of people that have served the immediate and extended community. The board reacted positively to this idea and agreed that Saviello should move forward with approaching the Cemetery Committee about it in November.

Rhonda Irish brought an update on the Tax Acquired Property Auction held recently. All six properties were sold, covering the tax as well as maintenance costs for those properties. According to Irish, those involved in the project are preparing the paperwork needed to place the properties in the registry for selling.

Keeping the floor, Irish posed the question to the board of returning to in-person meetings. After an informal unanimous vote, it was agreed that due to the rising Covid case numbers with winter approaching as well as the increased engagement from the public with the switch to virtual meetings in the past few months, the select board will continue to hold their meetings virtually, recording them and broadcasting them for the public to watch. Moving forward though, board member Tiffany Maiuri emphasized the priority that should be placed on improving technology for when the pandemic does end and they return to in-person meetings, in an attempt to maintain the involvement from the public.

In light of the upcoming election on Nov. 3, the scheduled select board meeting for that evening has been cancelled. The town hall will be open for voters to come to register and to vote on Oct. 29 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and will be open again on Nov. 3 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. for voters.

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