Lawsuit targets zoning permit for proposed Bridgeport cannabis grower

The Connecticut House passed a bill Wednesday, June 16, 2021, that would legalize marijuana in the state. (Brad Horrigan/Hartford Courant/TNS)

The Connecticut House passed a bill Wednesday, June 16, 2021, that would legalize marijuana in the state. (Brad Horrigan/Hartford Courant/TNS)

Brad Horrigan / TNS

BRIDGEPORT — A business owned by a well-known local family is seeking to overturn the first zoning permit issued here for growing legalized marijuana.

In late July 141 North Avenue LLC received the zoning commission’s approval to establish a cannabis cultivation and production facility at that address.

At that same meeting zoning commission members also amended Bridgeport’s land use regulations to allow cannabis retailers to seek permits for high traffic commercial areas. The North Avenue business had applied under the more limited rules that at that time treated the burgeoning recreational pot industry as an adult use like strip clubs and confined applications to industrial, out-of-the-way areas of town.

But, according to Joel Green, the lawyer for the company that wants to overturn the zoning approval, that neighborhood is still not an appropriate spot for cannabis cultivation.

Green represents 255 Island Brook LLC, which owns a vacant warehouse at 323 North Ave. According to state business records, 255 Island Brook LLC is affiliated with the Dinardos, well-known property owners in Bridgeport.

“There’s been development in the area and the area shows promise,” Green said. “This kind of proposal is sort of counter to the potential and character of the neighborhood.”

Green also claimed that “these (production) facilities cause odor.”

The lawsuit filed by 255 Island Brook LLC alleges the zoning commission members acted in an “illegal, unlawful, arbitrary and capricious” manner.

Russel Liskov, a land use attorney for the city, in a brief interview defended the zoning commission’s vote.

“They heard extensive evidence about the location of the property and made the determination that it was a proper place to give it a certificate of approval,” Liskov said.

A lawyer for 141 North Avenue LLC could not be reached for comment. But that address, according to state records, is the location of Nautilus Botanicals, which, as reported last month, is suing Connecticut after its cultivation license was denied.

Green said despite that setback for Nautilus, it is important that his client’s zoning appeal of the land use permit for 141 North Ave. goes forward.

He said it is possible Nautilus might prevail in its licensing fight and, if the company does not, an approved grower could use the zoning commission’s authorization to try to open up at that same North Avenue location.