Danbury’s first retail cannabis shop approved; second retail location could be approved soon

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DANBURY — Planners have unanimously approved the city’s first retail cannabis shop for a busy commercial stretch of Federal Road on the east end and signaled their intention to approve a second retail location soon on the west side’s Mill Plain Road.

The approval by the Planning Commission for BUD-R to sell recreational cannabis to adults on Federal Road and the signal by the planners to approve The Botanist’s application to sell recreational cannabis along with medicinal pot that it already dispenses from its existing location on Mill Plain Road came on Wednesday — one day after retail cannabis sales became legal in Connecticut.

Danbury is the only location in the 10-town region where retail cannabis sales are allowed, under regulations passed in August. Under state law, the cannabis businesses will generate a special 3 percent tax that Danbury can spend on community building.

How soon Danburians are allowed to buy retail weed in the city depends on which business gets off the ground first. BUD-R has its city approval but expects it will be months before it coordinates with the state to build a sidewalk and right-only turning lanes onto and off of Federal Road. The Botanist is already in business as the city’s only medicinal pot dispensary but still needs city approval, which could come as soon as later this month. The Botanist also has a sidewalk to build in front of its property according to city requirements.

There was no opposition to either application during a public hearing on Wednesday.

“Obviously we have heard quite a bit of testimony and we’ve received a lot of information on this particular application,” said Arnold Finaldi, chairman of the Planning Commission, referring to the BUD-R proposal to renovate a former equipment rental shop near the overpasses of Interstate 84 and Route 202.

“I believe we have covered all the bases, and addressed all the comments,” BUD-R attorney Ward Mazzucco said shortly before the commission vote.

The public hearing was just as smooth for The Botanist. Late last year, the Botanist had to challenge the city’s new cannabis legislation just weeks after the law went into effect, when a measurement technicality threatened to freeze The Botanist out of the retail trade. In the end the city bent its new rules to accommodate The Botanist. 

On Wednesday, the commission closed the public hearing for The Botanist’s application to operate as a hybrid pot dispensary and retailer, setting the stage for a vote as soon as its next meeting on Jan. 18.

“I don’t see any issue — I think all of our concerns have been addressed,” commission member Perry Salvagne said about The Botanist’s application. “And as with (BUD-R) it has been well vetted at this point.”

Commission member Helen Hoffstaetter agreed.

“As long as the staff is satisfied with all the questions and requirements they had, and it sounds like that took place, then I am OK with approval,” she said.

Reach Rob Ryser at rryser@newstimes.com or 203-731-3342